Ernest Thesiger

Ernest Thesiger

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Ernest Thesiger

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Ernest Frederic Graham Thesiger CBE (15 January 1879 - 14 January 1961) was an English stage and film actor. He is best known for his performance as Dr. Septimus Pretorius in James Whale's film Bride of Frankenstein (1935).


Early life and career

The grandson of the Baron Chelmsford, Thesiger was born in London, England and was the cousin of the explorer and author Wilfred Thesiger (1910–2003), and the nephew of General Frederic Augustus Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford, who, exactly a week after Ernest's birth, famously led his troops in battle against — and defeat at the hands of — a Zulu army at the Battle of Isandlwana.

Thesiger attended Marlborough College and the Slade School of Art with aspirations of becoming a painter, but quickly switched to drama, making his professional debut in a production of Colonel Smith in 1909. He enlisted in the military at the outbreak of the World War I in 1914, allegedly hoping to be assigned to a Scottish regiment because he wanted to wear a kilt, but was wounded in the field and sent home (At a dinner party shortly after his return, someone asked him what it had been like in France, to which he is supposed to have responded "Oh, my dear, the noise! and the people!") In 1917, he married Janette Mary Fernie Ranken, sister of his close friend and fellow Slade graduate William Ranken. In her biography of Thesiger's friend, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Hilary Spurling suggests that Thesiger and Janette wed largely out...
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