Glenn Strange
Glenn Strange Actor.jpg
Born George Glenn Strange
August 16, 1899 (1899-08-16) (age 118)
Weed in Otero County, New Mexico Territory, U.S.
Died September 20, 1973(1973-09-20) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1930–73
Spouse (1) Flora Hooper Strange, (2) Not known, (3) Minnie Thompson Strange (1937-1973, his death)

Glenn Strange (August 16, 1899 – September 20, 1973) was an American actor who appeared mostly in Western films. He is best known for playing the Frankenstein Monster in three Universal films during the 1940s and for his role as Sam Noonan, the bartender on CBS's Gunsmoke television series. Strange was of Irish and Cherokee descent and was a cousin of the Western film star and narrator Rex Allen.


Strange was born some thirteen years prior to New Mexico statehood near Alamogordo in tiny Weed in Otero County northeast of El Paso, Texas. He was born as George Glenn Strange, the fourth child of William Russell Strange and the former Sarah Eliza Byrd. He was an eighth generation grandson of Pocahontas and John Rolfe of Jamestown, Virginia.

Strange grew up in tiny Cross Cut (formerly known as Cross Out) in Brown County (county seat: Brownwood), some fifty miles east of Abilene in West Texas. His father was a bartender and later a rancher. Strange learned by ear how to play the fiddle and guitar. By the time he was twelve, young Glenn was performing at cowboy dances. By 1928, he was on radio in El Paso. He was a young rancher, but in 1930, he came to Hollywood as a member of the radio singing group, Arizona Wranglers. Strange joined the singers after having appeared at a rodeo in Prescott in Yavapai County in central Arizona. Another Strange cousin, Taylor McPeters, or "Cactus Mack" was also part of the Wranglers. Strange's Arizona connection prevailed when he guest starred in the 1958 episode "Chain Gang" of the syndicated western series 26 Men true stories about the Arizona Rangers.

Strange procured his first motion picture role in 1932 and appeared in hundreds of films during his lifetime. In 1949, he portrayed Butch Cavendish, who wiped out all of the Texas Rangers, except one, the role of Clayton Moore in The Lone Ranger.

Strange appeared twice as Jim Wade on Bill Williams's syndicated western series geared to juvenile audience's The Adventures of Kit Carson. He also appeared twice as "Blake" in the syndicated western The Cisco Kid. In 1954, he played Sheriff Billy Rowland in Jim Davis's syndicated western series Stories of the Century. Strange appeared six times in 1956 in multiple roles on Edgar Buchanan's syndicated Judge Roy Bean. In 1958, he had a minor part in an episode of John Payne's The Restless Gun. In 1959, he appeared in another western syndicated series, Mackenzie's Raiders, in the episode entitled "Apache Boy". Strange first appeared on Gunsmoke in 1959 and assumed several roles on the long-running program before he was cast as the bartender.

Frankenstein's Monster Edit

House of Frankenstein, Glenn Strange, Boris Karloff

Glenn Strange and Boris Karloff in House of Frankenstein. Make-up designed by Jack Pierce.

In 1942, he appeared in The Mad Monster for Producers Releasing Corporation. In 1944, while Glenn was being made up for an action film at Universal, make-up artist Jack Pierce noticed Strange's face and size would be appropriate for the role of the Monster. Strange was cast in House of Frankenstein in the role created by Boris Karloff in the 1931 version of Frankenstein, coached by Karloff personally after hours.

Strange recounted a personal anecdote in Ted Newsom's documentary, 100 Years of Horror (1996). On the set of House of Dracula (1945), Lon Chaney, Jr., got him extremely inebriated. In the scene in which the Monster is discovered in a dank cave, Strange lay immersed for hours in "quicksand" (which was actually cold mud) waiting for the cameras to roll and began to get a chill. Lon Chaney recommended that alcohol would keep Strange warm. Strange could barely walk after the day's shooting.

Strange played the Monster a third time in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), with Chaney and Bela Lugosi. Strange also appeared in character with Lou Costello in a haunted house skit on The Colgate Comedy Hour as well as making a gag publicity appearance as a masked flagpole-sitter for a local Los Angeles TV show in the 1950s. After weeks of the station teasing the public about the sitter's identity, Strange removed his mask and revealed himself as the Frankenstein Monster (actually, yet another mask.) Notably, Strange also played an ape-like monster in The Bowery Boys horror-comedy Master Minds in 1949, mimicking Huntz Hall's frantic comedy movements, with Hall providing his own dubbed voice.

During the wave of monster-related merchandising in the late 1950s and 1960s, it was usually Glenn Strange's iconic image used for the Monster on toys, games and paraphernalia, most often from his appearance in the Abbott & Costello film. In 1969, The New York Times mistakenly published Boris Karloff's obituary with Glenn Strange's picture as Frankenstein's monster[1].

Physical and family informationEdit

Strange was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed 220 pounds. His first wife was the former Flora Hooper. He was married for thirty-six years (1937–1973, his death) to his third wife, the former Minnie Thompson (1911–2004). The couple had two children, Harry Glenn Strange (born 1938) of Klamath Falls, Oregon and Janine Laraine Strange (born 1939).


Strange died of lung cancer in Los Angeles, California, just after declining health had compelled him to leave his role on Gunsmoke. Strange had from time to time collaborated on various tunes with western actor Eddie Dean, including the opening title song for Dean's Tumbleweed Trail (1942). Dean sang at Strange's funeral service as a final tribute to the actor. Strange was interred at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.

In 1975, two years after Strange's death, his Gunsmoke costar Buck Taylor named his third son Cooper Glenn Taylor after his friend Glenn Strange.

External linksEdit


  1. Gregory William Mank, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration, McFarland & Co Inc, 2009, ISBN-10: 0786434805, page 610

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