Horror History: Richard Denning

Richard Denning
Born March 27th, 1914, Died October 11th, 1998

Richard Denning (born as Richard Denninger, but was told to change it by the studio because it sounded too much like Dillinger!), never started out to be an actor, going to school for business, and even graduating cum laude with a master’s degree in business administration. But once he got the acting bug, there was no stopping him. After winning a radio contest called “Do You Want to Be an Actor?”, he got a screen test with Warner Bros. They passed on him, but he did sign with Paramount. While he didn’t make a ton of pictures in the horror genre, he made a few, including The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). He also appeared in Roger Corman’s The Day the World Ended (1955) or Edward Cahn’s Creature with the Atomic Brain (1955), or appearing with Mara Corday in The Black Scorpion (1957).

He would have a pretty successful career in non-genre films and a lot of television, but always left a mark with me in the genre pictures he did appear in, even when he was not the nicest character like in Creature from the Black Lagoon!

Denning had married one of the genre’s early scream queens, Evelyn Ankers, who starred in films like The Wolf Man (1941) and Son of Dracula (1943).

Movie Review: The Ghost of Frankenstein

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The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Starring Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Evelyn Ankers, Janet Ann Gallow, Barton Yarborough, Dwight Frye

There are certain movies from our childhood that still hold a type of charm over us. Ones that when watching it as an adult, even though the film might have flaws, or just isn’t the best, it still is able to recreate the same feeling it did upon that first viewing, all those years ago. The Ghost of Frankenstein is one of those for me. I still consider the original 1931 Frankenstein film one of my favorites and a much better film, but for some reason, I’d probably be more likely to sit down and watch Ghost on some afternoon than the original. Maybe because watching the original, I view it more like an adult, but with Ghost, it makes me feel like a 14 year old kid again watching it on my 13-inch black and white TV. That was when I first got to see this and I can still remember sitting there in my room, eyes glued to the little television set.

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Horror History – Evelyn Ankers

ankersEvelyn Ankers
Born Aug. 17th, 1918 – Died Aug. 29th, 1985

Evelyn Ankers was the only actress to play opposite the main Universal monsters, Frankenstein’s creature, the Wolf Man, and Dracula (actually his Son).  She appeared in a few films in England in the ’30s before coming to the US and working for Universal.  Her first movie, even though a comedy, still hand its hands in the horror genre.  It was Abbott & Costello’s Hold that Ghost in 1941.  That same year, she appeared as the love interests for Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man.  She would then appear in Ghost of Frankenstein in 1942 and then Son of Dracula in 1943, all opposite Chaney Jr.  It’s been reported that even though they worked together quite often, they were not the best of friends.

She made over 50 movies in her short career of less than 15 years before she retired from the business.  She came back to make a few appearances in television, but it wasn’t that many.  In 1942, she had married actor Richard Denning, who also was well known making creature features.  She spent the rest of her life as a happily married housewife to Denning until her death in 1985, from ovarian cancer.