Born: July 22, 1889
Died: May 29, 1957
Most Frightening Movies: Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Why He Scares Us: Whale was one of the original horror moviemakers, directing Boris Karloff in the iconic 1931 adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the 1935 sequel, Bride of Frankenstein. In Whale’s Frankenstein films, the monster is viewed with a surprising degree of sympathy, an approach many future adaptations would take. Whale, who was one of the few celebrities at the time to be openly gay, led a far more tragic life than any of his horror movies. He committed suicide at the age of 67 by drowning in his pool. The critically acclaimed Gods and Monsters (1998) depicted the final days of Whale’s life. Ian McKellen’s nuanced performance as Whale was a fitting tribute to the father of Frankenstein’s monster, whose celebrated horror movies will surely stand the test of time.