Edward Van Sloan

Active - 1931 - 1948  |   Born - Nov 1, 1881 in San Francisco, CA  |   Died - May 6, 1964 in San Francisco, CA  |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Crime, Mystery, Horror

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His Teutonic cadence has led many to assume that Edward Van Sloan was German-born, but in fact he hailed from San Francisco. After a lengthy career as a commercial artist, Van Sloan turned to the stage in the World War I years. He came to Hollywood in 1930 to repeat his stage role as dour vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing in Dracula (1930), a role he'd reprised in 1936's Dracula's Daughter. Surprisingly, this most famous of Van Sloan's screen characterizations was his least favorite: he considered himself hopelessly hammy as Van Helsing (even though he seems a model of restraint opposite the florid Bela Lugosi). Van Sloan went on to essay Van Helsing-type characters in Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), and Before I Hang (1940). He also was given a few opportunities to play the evil side of the fence as the "surprise killer" in such quickies as Behind the Mask (1932) and Death Kiss (1933). For the most part, Van Sloan's film career was limited to bit roles; he was especially busy during World War II, playing everything from resistance leaders to Nazi diplomats. Edward Van Sloan retired in 1947, emerging publicly only to grant an interview or two during his remaining 15 years on earth.

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