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‘Young Frankenstein’: A Look at Mel Brooks’ Hilarious 1974 Classic

With stars like Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle, it’s no wonder this film became a hit.


Young Frankenstein, released in 1974, is a cinematic gem crafted by the comedic genius Mel Brooks. The movie follows the story of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, a talented neurosurgeon and the grandson of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

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Initially reluctant to embrace his family’s macabre legacy, Frederick finds himself drawn to his grandfather’s work when he inherits his Transylvanian estate. Accompanied by his quirky sidekick, Igor, and the lovely lab assistant, Inga, Frederick embarks on a journey to recreate his grandfather’s experiment and bring a corpse to life. Hilarity ensues as the experiment goes awry, leading to a series of absurd and comedic escapades.

At the helm of Young Frankenstein is the incomparable Mel Brooks, known for his knack for blending satire with slapstick humor. Brooks, along with co-writer Gene Wilder, crafted a script that paid homage to the classic Universal horror films of the 1930s while injecting it with their unique brand of comedy.

With Brooks’s keen directorial vision and Wilder’s impeccable comedic timing, Young Frankenstein became an instant hit, earning critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase.

Here we look at the cast of Young Frankenstein.

Gene Wilder as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein

Gene Wilder as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein
1974/2010 Century Studios; Dr. Billy Ingram / Contributor/Getty

Born on June 11, 1933, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Gene Wilder plays the lead role of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein. Prior to this film, Wilder had gained recognition for his roles in The Producers (1967) for which he received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. He had further success in starring role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), in which he was nominated for a Golden Globe.

The same year Wilder appeared in Young Frankenstein, he appeared in another Mel Brooks, hit: Blazing Saddles. Then he was in three movies with Richard Pryor: the 1980 hit Stir Crazy, in which they played a hapless pair jailed for a crime they didn’t commit, as well as See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) and Another You (1991).

In 1994 he starred in the TV series Something Wilder.  In 2005, he published his memoir Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art.

He died on August 29, 2016. He was 83.

MUST READ: 22 of the Best Gene Wilder Movies: Revisit ‘Willy Wonka’, ‘Young Frankenstein’ and More

Marty Feldman as Igor: Young Frankenstein

Marty Feldman as Igor (Young Frankenstein)
1974/1981 Century Studios; MediaPunch / Contributor/Getty

Born on July 8, 1934, London, England, Marty Feldman played the role of Igor. Feldman had Graves’ disease during his early childhood and unfortunately after a botched surgery he was left with the condition of strabismus, in which his eyes protruded and misaligned.

Prior to his role in Young Frankenstein he starred in the TV series Marty from 1968-69; he was also a writer on the show.

He also wrote, starred and directed the 1977 film, The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977). He also did the same—writing, starring and directing—in the 1980 movie In God We Trust.

Unfortunately, his life was cut tragically short. He died in 1982 of a heart attack while filming Yellowbeard in Mexico City. He was only 48. 

Peter Boyle as The Monster

Peter Boyle as The Monster
1974/2003 Century Studios; Jon Kopaloff / Contributor; Jon Kopaloff / Contributor/Getty

Born on October 18, 1935, Norristown, Pennsylvania, Peter Boyle played the role of The Monster.

Prior to Young Frankenstein, Boyle was in the 1970 film Joe and the 1972 movie The Candidate. After appearing as The Monster in Young Frankenstein in 1974, he went on to appear in the 1976 movie Taxi Driver. In 1984, he played local crime boss Jocko Dundee in the movie Johnny Dangerously, which also starred Michael Keaton. A slew of movies followed including While You Were Sleeping (1995); Dr. Dolittle (1998); and Monster’s Ball (2001).

But it was his break-out role in the TV series Everyone Loves Raymond, where he played Frank Barone that made him famous. He was on the series from 1996-2005 and was a fan favorite.

He passed away in 2006 at the age of 71.

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Teri Garr as Inga: Young Frankenstein

Teri Garr as Inga (Young Frankenstein)
1974/2015 Century Studios; Albert L. Ortega / Contributor/Getty

Born on December 11, 1944, Lakewood, Ohio, Teri Garr played the character Inga.

Garr had steady TV appearances in the 1960s and 1970s on shows like Star Trek (1966), It Takes a Thief (1968) and McCloud (1970), as well a regular spot on The Sonny and Cher Show (1976).

After being cast in Young Frankenstein (1974), she continued to get parts in films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Black Stallion (1979) and Tootsie (1982), where she was nominated for an Oscar for her role. She continued to appear in films like Mr. Mom (1983), After Hours (1985) and Ready to Wear (1994). She also had regular roles on TV including Good Advice, Women of the House as well as guest appearances on Friends and How to Marry a Millionaire.

In 2006, Garr published her memoir, Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood, which details her career and health struggles after her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

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Cloris Leachman as Frau Blücher

Cloris Leachman as Frau Blücher
1974/ Century Studios; David Livingston / Contributor/Getty

Born on April 30, 1926, Des Moines, Iowa, Cloris Leachman played the role of Frau Blücher, the sinister Transylvanian housekeeper.

Prior to Young Frankenstein, Leachman starred in the The Last Picture Show in 1971 and won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her portrayal as a middle age woman who has an affair with a football player in a small town in Texas.

She continued to win awards—in fact she was nominated for  22 Primetime Emmys and won eight—in her roles on TV including playing Phyllis Lindstrom in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was such a success that she got her own show, Phyllis, for which she won a Golden Globe.

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While TV was her main focus, she did appear in three Mel Brooks movies including: Young Frankenstein (1974) High Anxiety (1977) and History of the World, Part I (1981). In other films, she played the mother of a dedicated violin teacher (Meryl Streep) in Music of the Heart (1999) and the mother-in-law of a stressed-out chef (Adam Sandler) in Spanglish (2004).

In TV she continued to get starring roles in shows like Malcolm in the Middle, where she played a grandmother every bit as frightening as Frau Blücher. Leachman was also a regular in Raising Hope and the revival of Mad About You.

In 2008, she finished seventh out of 13 contestants on Dancing With the Stars. At 82, she was the oldest contestant to take part in that competition.

She also wrote a memoir, simply title, Cloris.

Leachman passed away in 2021 at the age of 94.

Madeline Kahn as Elizabeth: Young Frankenstein

Madeline Kahn as Elizabeth (Young Frankenstein)
1974/1998 Century Studios; Walter McBride / Contributor/Getty

Born on September 29, 1942, Boston, Massachusetts, Madeline Kahn played the role of Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein.

Kahn was in the movie Paper Moon (1973) opposite Ryan O’Neal and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role. The following year she was nominated again for her role in Blazing Saddles (1974). Next up she did Clue (1985) and in 1998, she lent her voice to the character of Gypsy in A Bug’s Life.

She died of cancer on December 3, 1999. She was only 57.

For all things 1970’s, click here!

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