Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.
MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: The assistant in Frankenstein was named Igor.
An interesting situation that pops up frequently is the case of almost intellectual consolidation. Take a bunch of similar movies and whoever is the most memorable from that group will be what people remember.
That is most likely the situation when you see people refer to Doctor Frankenstein’s hunchback assistant, Igor.
In 1931’s Frankenstein, Doctor Henry Frankenstein does NOT have an assistant named Igor.
He DOES, however, have a weird assistant named Fritz, played by Dwight Frye.
The assistant character does not appear in Mary Shelley’s original novel, but first popped up in a stage adaptation a decade or so after the novel, Presumption: or the Fate of Frankenstein by Richard Brinsley Peake.
In the sequel to the film, 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein, once again, there is no character named Igor.
However, once again, Frye plays a similar character, this time named Karl (unlike Fritz, Karl is a crony who does not actually work for Henry Frankenstein, but for a doctor who is blackmailing Frankenstein into creating a bride for the Monster).
It is the SECOND sequel, 1939’s Son of Frankenstein, that finally introduces an Igor into the series.
In the film, with Basil Rathbone as the titular son of Frankenstein, the great Bela Lugosi plays the assistant, Ygor, who is deformed as a result of a hanging gone wrong.
Ygor is actually the driving figure in the film, as he uses the Monster to get revenge against the jury who convicted him.
Lugosi was such a prominent character that he was brought back for the next sequel, Ghost of Frankenstein, where Ygor’s brain is transplanted into the Monster.
So anyhow, over the years, Lugosi’s Ygor has been transposed in people’s minds as having been the assistant in the original film. Heck, most folks probably think Igor was ALWAYS a part of the Frankenstein mythos, as that is basically how he is treated in the years since.
And he didn’t even show up until the third film!
Poor Fritz, no respect. No respect at all.
He could have been a contender!!
The legend is…
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