Coincidence? I think not

Baron Clement von Franckenstein obituary


In this, he was helped by a lifetime’s experience of introducing himself by that name. Family legend, which he was happy to burnish, had it that Mary Shelley had borrowed it, with a slight amendment, for her book after meeting an ancestor of von Franckenstein’s, who was consul in Geneva when she was there.


Before turning to acting

Rightie ho

Franckenstein’s first role on camera, improbably, was as an extra in Mel Brooks’s spoof Young Frankenstein (1974).


Sir Pterry was right. The million to one shot, it’s a certainty, isn’t it?

8 thoughts on “Coincidence? I think not”

  1. Sir Pterry makes a serious point. The individual things and coincidences, all of them are individually extremely unlikely, but so are all the alternative scenarios. Predicting in advance that unlikely stuff will happen is trivial, predicting which one will happen not so.

    And there’s some other angle to this, confirmation bias, IIRC, briefly that your attention is drawn to the things that look like remarkable coincidences so you focus on that and ignore the obvious stuff that passes you by. New Scientist years ago did a lovely column on nominative determinism, of which this is a great example.

    And of course, being an actor called Frankenstein is gonna draw you towards and get you that part, so it isn’t entirely coincidence.

  2. Mel Brooks would not have been able to resist casting him, once he heard his name. The coincidence is that he hadn’t had a previous acting role (but even that’s less so; it’s hard to get a first break in a crowded field, and his name gave him an opening there).

  3. BTW, is “colourful” Times obit code for “gay”, “drunk”, “philanderer”, “multiple sexual assault convictions”, or just “forrin”?

  4. There’s not much in the obit that’s in code “certainly Rabelaisian journey of a nobly born but impoverished Anglo-Austrian Old Etonian orphan with a taste for the arts and a love of cricket, tireless in the pursuit of jeunes filles sportives?…..Undoubtedly, he had a need to be loved and it was his unceasing search for a physical manifestation of this that led to the escapades of a roué with which most associated him.

    Many do not bear repetition in a family newspaper. There was the time when he had to sit through dinner with friends having discovered that the young lady he was expecting to meet later had cancelled, though not before he had taken Viagra. Meanwhile, the tale of who unsuspectingly drank the contents of a bottle of Spanish brandy that von Franckenstein had been using to sterilise himself after dalliances with women in Tijuana is, perhaps, a story for which the world is not yet prepared……Franckenstein was commissioned into the Royal Scots Greys, with whom he served in Germany and Aden. A harbinger of things to come was when he was discovered in a Hamburg nightclub “in full mess kit — boots, spurs, the lot” with two ladies of the town…….The passing of time did, however, prompt him to seek a wife at the turn of the millennium — “one doesn’t like to see an old title die out”. People magazine nominated him one of America’s top 50 bachelors and he told an interviewer that he would prefer a spouse who was “smart, independent and buxom”.

    He did not find one, but at the start of his funeral, a woman in her twenties matching von Franckenstein’s requisites and known to his friends placed herself in the front pew. Then another arrived and announced it was she who was Clem’s girlfriend. Something of a contretemps ensued.”

    Not a great deal of code there.

  5. When I told him my name wasn’t Clement, he nailed my head to a coffee table. He was a cruel man. But Fair.

  6. Nice post: comment below is mere pendantry.
    The wikipedia entry claims that in his early acting career he introduced himself as “Clement St George” lest his real name scare people – it was after moving to Hollywood (at the age of 28) that he used Franckenstein.
    “Impoverished” – er, how did he go to Eton and spend several years as a Guards officer? Or was impoverishment a result of the latter?

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