Elsa Sullivan Lanchester (28 October 1902 – 26 December 1986) was a British actress with a long career in theatre, film and television.
Lanchester studied dance as a child and after the First World War began performing in theatre and cabaret, where she established her career over the following decade. She met the actor Charles Laughton in 1927, and they were married two years later. She began playing small roles in British films, including the role of Anne of Cleves with Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). His success in American films resulted in the couple moving to Hollywood, where Lanchester played small film roles.
Her role as the title character in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) brought her recognition. She played supporting roles through the 1940s and 1950s. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Come to the Stable (1949) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957), the last of twelve films in which she appeared with Laughton. Following Laughton's death in 1962, Lanchester resumed her career with appearances in such Disney films as Mary Poppins (1964), That Darn Cat! (1965) and Blackbeard's Ghost (1968). The horror film Willard (1971) was highly successful, and one of her last roles was in Murder by Death (1976).
She is also known as Lanchester.
Elsa Lanchester died in Woodland Hills, California on 26 December 1986 aged 84, at the Motion Picture Hospital from bronchopneumonia. Her body was cremated on 5 January 1987, at the Chapel of the Pines in Los Angeles and her ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean.