November 04, 1985 12:00 PM

Frankenstein is alive and well in Hollywood, though there is nothing monstrous about him. He is known as Clement St. George, 41, scion of the noble Austrian family whose von Franckenstein name (minus the “c”) was allegedly filched by novelist Mary Shelley, wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, for her 1818 gothic classic. Ironically, St. George, a character actor who has appeared in such films as Time After Time and F.I.S.T, abandoned his Franckenstein surname in 1973, when he had a bit part as a villager in the Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein. “I wanted to be a serious actor, not the guy with the funny name,” explains the British-born, Eton-educated St. George, whose father, the Austrian minister to Great Britain, broke with his homeland after the 1938 Nazi Anschluss. “Every time I went for an audition they talked about my name for 15 minutes and my acting for five. But Mel Brooks was sympathetic. He had changed his name [from Kaminsky] and urged me to do the same.” As St. George, Clement finds it easier to get work (he’s in a current Dodge truck commercial), and he does not resent continued exploitation of the Frankenstein name in films such as the forthcoming Transylvania 6-5000. “Now that I no longer use it,” he reasons, “someone’s got to keep it in the limelight.”

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