Doctor Waldman

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Doctor Waldman
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus character
Created by Mary Shelley
Gender Male

Dr. Waldman is a fictional character who appears in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein and in its subsequent film versions.

In the novel, he has a fairly small part—he is Victor Frankenstein's teacher at medical school. In the 1931 Universal film Frankenstein, Dr. Waldman was played by Edward Van Sloan. In Kenneth Branagh's 1994 film, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Waldman was portrayed by John Cleese. Both film versions expand his role, making him a mentor to Victor (Henry Frankenstein in the 1931 film).

In James Whale's 1931 version[edit]

In the 1931 film version of Frankenstein, Dr. Waldman was a professor of anatomical studies at Goldstadt Medical College. Waldman had been Henry Frankenstein's favorite teacher during the aspiring young scientist's time as a student there. Although Waldman had much respect for Henry's brilliance, he became increasingly disturbed when Henry began demanding fresh bodies for his experiments in chemical galvanism and electro-biology: bodies that were not those of cats and dogs, but human beings. Eventually, the increasingly ambitious Henry left the college to pursue his researches in private.

Some time later, Henry's fiancée, Elizabeth, and best friend, Victor Moritz, came to the college to confide in Waldman their fears for Henry's health. After telling them of Henry's decision to leave the school, Waldman agreed to accompany them to Henry's lab to talk some sense into him. Instead, the three bore witness to Henry Frankenstein's crowning achievement: the creation of a creature he had built from parts of dead bodies sewn together, plus a brain that Henry's assistant Fritz had stolen from Waldman's classroom. Waldman tried to tell Henry that the Monster had a defective brain and was dangerous, as Fritz had dropped the chosen brain and brought a criminal one, but this fact only sank in when the monster killed Fritz. They locked up the Monster, and then unlocked the door, injecting him with a sedative in the back which knocked him out after he had nearly killed Frankenstein.

Suffering a nervous breakdown, Henry was taken home by Elizabeth, Victor, and his father, Baron Frankenstein. Waldman remained at the laboratory for the purposes of destroying the Monster by dissection. The Monster awoke before Waldman could begin, however, and, seizing Waldman by the throat, he proceeded to strangle the old man to death.

(The character of Dr. Waldman would later appear in 1932's Boo!, a comedy short made by Universal, in which he is once again strangled to death by the Monster despite the narrator's attempts to warn him.)

In Kenneth Branagh's 1994 version[edit]

In Branagh's film, it is Dr. Waldman who teaches Victor how to re-animate dead tissue. In both films, he is killed by the monster. In the 1931 film, he is killed by the recently "born" monster. In Branagh's film, he and Victor are administering vaccines to the local townspeople, one of whom resists, and kills Dr. Waldman, and is later hanged for it. Victor uses the killer's body for the creature, and Waldman's brain.