Drunken Frankenstein’s Monster

Nowadays, Hollywood actors and actresses indulge in as much bad behavior as they ever did, if not more, frequently involving intoxicants of various stripes. But here's a difference from the Golden Age. As drunk or stoned as they get offscreen, they seldom seem to report for work in that condition, and if they do, the resulting footage is never seen by the public. Professionalism on the set is the rule, and the infrequency of live broadcasts adds to the censorship.

But such was not always the case.

James Dean was drunk onscreen in EAST OF EDEN.

Montgomery Clift did a scene drunk in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.

And then we had the case of Lon Chaney Jr., a fine actor with an alcoholism problem.

When he acted the part of Frankenstein's monster on TV in 1952, he was totally plastered--so much so that he thought the live broadcast was a rehearsal! That's why, when he picks up furniture to smash, he instead gently sets it down, thinking he has to preserve it for the real performance!

Watch the three parts of this show now, if you wish. The first is below, and the other two after the jump.

     Posted By: Paul - Mon Jul 21, 2008
     Category: Celebrities | Hollywood | Inebriation and Intoxicants | Movies | ShowBiz

I had always suspected Lon Cheney just got drunk to be Frankenstein. 😊
Posted by MadCarlotta on 07/21/08 at 11:59 AM
I can think of a few more recent cases of actors appearing completely plastered on air. Paula Abdul springs to mind. And then there have been instances from late-night talk shows. I can't remember how long ago it was, but I recall Farrah Fawcett being completely out of it during an interview with David Letterman.
Posted by Alex on 07/21/08 at 12:45 PM
And then there is the classic scene at the beginning of Apocalypse Now, of Martin Sheen drunk in a hotel room. You know how they filmed it? That was really Martin Sheen drunk in a hotel room. At one time, he punches a mirror and shatters it. That was not scripted at all - that is just him being drunk.
Posted by Baradrae on 07/21/08 at 03:04 PM
Derek--an excellent point about stars being considered as valuable property and hence defended by their investors from their own worst behavior.
Posted by Paul on 07/22/08 at 10:02 AM
Gerald--had never heard of BOOM. Sounds like a splendid trainwreck. Thanks for the tip!
Posted by Paul on 07/22/08 at 10:02 AM
Baradrae--another famous incindent unknown to me! Thanks!
Posted by Paul on 07/22/08 at 10:04 AM
Alex--TV remains the last bastion of drunken performances. I wonder how live theater holds up for such incidents? Don't know the history of the stage myself well enough to say....
Posted by Paul on 07/22/08 at 10:06 AM
MadCarlotta--the drunkenness does add a certain "stitched-together" quality to is body language!
Posted by Paul on 07/22/08 at 10:09 AM
Maegan--you're absolutely right I suspect that the rate of overdose death in Hollywood remains pretty consistent across the decades--if you count alcohol.
Posted by Paul on 07/23/08 at 09:01 AM
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