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Wilbur Grey is a character played by burlesque comedian Lou Costello and featured in the 1948 comedy-horror film Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. As always, Costello teamed up with his longtime partner Bud Abbott, this time to match wits and barbs against not only the Frankenstein Monster, but Dracula and the Wolf Man as well. Wilbur was portrayed as a chubby, light-hearted man, albeit severely superstitious and afraid of nearly everything.

Biography Edit

In the late 1940s, Wilbur Grey and his friend Chick Young were working as baggage handlers at a shipping and receiving station in La Mirada, Florida. In 1948, Wilbur's girlfriend Sandra Mornay stopped at the station to visit him. She arranged to go out on a date with Wilbur after work. Chick never understood what Sandra saw in someone like Wilbur, but it was clear that she was immensely attracted to him.

Soon after, a man named Larry Talbot placed an overseas call to the station from London, England. He asked about a shipment of two crates scheduled for delivery to McDougal's House of Horrors. Mistaking Talbot for McDougal, Wilbur told him that the crates had arrived, but Talbot warned him that they were not to be opened. Larry was unable to complete the telephone call as he began to transform into a werewolf right at that moment. Believing that the growls of the werewolf were actually the barking sounds of a dog, Wilbur hung up.

Wilbur learns about Dracula

Wilbur learns about Dracula

He then encountered the real Mister McDougal who demanded to see his crates. Wilbur went into the warehouse to unload them, but managed to tip one of the crates over. McDougal was furious and ordered them to personally deliver the crates to his House of Horrors for immediate inspection. The crates contained the bodies of the original Count Dracula as well as that of the legendary Frankenstein Monster.

When they arrived, they unpacked the crate containing the coffin of Count Dracula. Chick went outside to begin unloading the second crate, leaving Wilbur behind to clean up. Wilbur found a placard detailing a brief history of Dracula. As he read from it, the lid to the coffin began to creak open and Wilbur grew scared. He called out to Chick and expressed his issue, but Chick dismissed him, citing that reading the sign was giving him the creeps. He went back out to the truck and Wilbur continued reading. He heard the noise again, and when he turned around, he saw Dracula's hand sticking out from the coffin. He called again to Chick, but when he arrived, the hand was back inside the coffin. This process repeated itself two more times until finally, Dracula exited the coffin and used his powers to place Wilbur into a hypnotic trance. With Wilbur effectively asleep, Dracula finished uncrating the Frankenstein Monster and the two escaped from the museum. McDougal arrived with his insurance agent just in time to know that both of his exhibits were missing. He blamed Wilbur and Chick for stealing his possessions and had them arrested.

They were bailed out of jail by a woman named Joan Raymond. Joan Raymond was an insurance investigator who wanted to get close to Wilbur in the hopes of finding out what actually happened to the exhibits.

Around this time, Wilbur met up with Larry Talbot. Larry came to their hotel and told them that he was the man who had called from London, warning them about Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster. Chick tried to discourage Talbot from saying anymore, citing that he would put "ideas" into Wilbur's head and that Wilbur wasn't used to such things. Talbot knew that the moon would soon rise and that he would become a werewolf. He asked Wilbur to lock him inside his room and to make sure he stayed there until the morning. Wilbur agreed even though he felt the request to be "silly". Moments later, Wilbur realized that Talbot had left his suitcase in their room and returned to Talbot's room to give it back to him. Talbot was now the Wolf Man and lunged at Wilbur, but Wilbur, unaware of the Wolf Man's presence, managed to evade him and go back to his own room.

Wolf Man stalks Wilbur Grey

The Wolf Man stalks Wilbur

The following morning, Sandra Mornay came to their hotel room to see how they were doing. They had assumed that she had been the one to bail them out of jail, but Sandra told them that she had only recently heard about their incarceration. She asked Wilbur to pick her up for their date later in the evening, which involved going to a masquerade ball. She made him promise to come alone.

Moments after Sandra left, Joan Raymond appeared at their door. Joan feigned being in love with Wilbur and told him that when she saw him at the baggage room it was "love at first sight". Wilbur was floating on a cloud of love believing that two attractive women were actually in love with him. As surprised as Wilbur was by this apparent development, Chick was even more surprised. Joan learned that Wilbur had plans to attend a masquerade ball, and asked him if he would take her. Wilbur neglected to mention that he already had a date with Sandra, and agreed to take Joan as well.

Shortly thereafter, Wilbur remembered that he still had Talbot's room key and went to his room to return it to him. The room was in shambles and Talbot was asleep on the couch. Larry tried to explain to them that he suffered from the curse of the werewolf. Wilbur didn't necessarily believe him, but it certainly would not have seemed any stranger than anything else he experienced of late.

That evening, Wilbur, Chick and Joan went to Sandra's estate, which was an old, crumbling castle located on a nearby island. Sandra greeted them, but was bothered by the fact that Wilbur failed to come by himself. Joan and she went off to prepare for the party, leaving Wilbur and Chick downstairs alone. A telephone rang and Wilbur decided to answer it. It was Larry Talbot. Talbot told him that he had a line on Dracula and the Monster and believed that they were headquartering themselves inside the castle. This was all Wilbur needed to hear. He dropped the telephone receiver and ran for the door. Chick caught up to him and said that he was going to put an end to this Dracula/Frankenstein nonsense once and for all. He declared that Wilbur and he would search the entire castle to prove that Wilbur was worrying over nothing.

While searching the castle, Wilbur opened a basement door, which led down a steep, wooden staircase into an underground grotto. By accident, he also discovered a secret, revolving panel that led him into a hidden chamber where the Frankenstein Monster sat dormant. Wilbur didn't see the monster at first and sat down on the creature's lap to ponder his situation. When the monster began to stir, Wilbur jumped up and ran out of the room. He eventually found his way back to Chick who, once again, didn't believe a single thing that Wilbur had to tell him.

The two men regrouped with Sandra and Joan who introduced them to Doctor Lejos. Wilbur didn't recognize Lejos as Dracula since the only times he had ever seen the vampire was from behind his dark, black cape. Lejos knew that Wilbur was the man whom Sandra had selected for his experiments and expressed his approval. He told all of them, including Sandra's assistant, Professor Stevens, to go to the masquerade ball and have a good time.

McDougal accosts Wilbur

McDougal accosts Wilbur

At the party, Wilbur ran afoul of Mister McDougal who was still upset over the loss of his exhibits. He pushed Wilber onto the ground and Chick threatened to press charges. McDougal retorted that the charges wouldn't stick because there were no witnesses, so Chick grabbed a passing guest (dressed as a knight) to serve as a witness and dared McDougal to attack Wilbur again. McDougal pushed Wilbur to the ground, but the knight's visor slammed shut and he didn't see a thing.

Soon after, Wilbur ran across Larry Talbot again. While talking with Talbot, he gave Chick his masquerade costume, which consisted of a mask that looked like a wolf.

Wilbur then came upon Doctor Lejos and Sandra who had only just arrived at the party. He noticed Sandra acting extremely peculiar, particularly when she asked to take a private walk with him. Sandra told him that she wanted to be the only person in his life. Wilbur slowly began to realize that she had become a victim of Dracula and was now a vampire. He accidentally pricked his finger on a rose thorn and Sandra leaned in to bite him. Fortunately for Wilbur, Chick and Larry arrived and Sandra ran off. They told him that Joan had turned up missing and all three men split up to search the surrounding forest for her.

As the full moon rose, Larry Talbot turned into the Wolf Man again. He stalked Wilbur through the woods, but got himself entangled between two trees while trying to lunge at him. Wilbur turned around, but thought that the Wolf Man was actually Chick wearing a mask. He punched him in the face and demanded that he take the mask off. When the Wolf Man refused to comply, Wilbur circled around behind him and kicked him in the rump. The Wolf Man freed himself and it was only then that Wilbur realized that something was definitely wrong with whom he believed was his friend. He ran back to the party where he found Chick with Mister McDougal (who had previously been attacked by the Wolf Man). McDougal accused both of them of trying to kill him and Wilbur ran back into the woods. Unfortunately, it was not the Wolf Man he met this time, but Dracula. Dracula turned into a bat and began chasing him. He pursued him as far as the dock whereupon he resumed human form. Chick Young arrived just in time to see Dracula transform and now fully believed everything that Wilbur had tried to tell him.

Wilbur vs. Frankenstein

Wilbur thinks he's escaped.

Wilbur awakened the following morning inside of Dracula's dungeon. Next to him was the inert body of the Frankenstein Monster and the hypnotized Sandra Mornay. As night fell, Dracula rose from his coffin. He ordered Doctor Mornay to prepare Wilbur for surgery. Wilbur tried to talk her out of it, but she told him how she was going to make him immortal. After hearing how his brain was going to be transplanted into a new body, Wilbur had little hope that his situation might soon improve.

Fortunately, Chick and Larry arrived and freed Wilbur from the dungeon. Along with Professor Stevens, they escaped from the castle. When Dracula learned that Wilbur was missing, he used his powers to hypnotize him from afar. He commanded him to return to the castle and Wilbur obediently complied.

Wilbur awakened strapped down to an operating table. He snapped out of his hypnotic state just as Sandra was preparing to cut into his brain. Larry and Chick burst into the laboratory and Larry pulled Sandra away from him. He then began to loosen Wilbur's straps, but unfortunately, the moon had risen once again and Talbot transformed into the Wolf Man. The Wolf Man pushed Wilbur's gurney out of the way so that he could get to an even more impressive prey -- Dracula. While Wilbur spun about in a circle unable to get up, the Frankenstein Monster broke free of his bonds. Doctor Mornay tried to halt the creature, but the monster picked her up and hurled her through the laboratory window. Chick returned to the lab and freed Wilbur. Together, they began racing around throughout the castle, doing everything they could to avoid the threat of the monster, Dracula and the Wolf Man.

They eventually made their way outside and managed to get into a docked motor boat. The Frankenstein Monster lumbered after them and hurled wooden barrels at them while Wilbur vainly paddled his hands through the water. It was Professor Stevens who managed to end the threat of the monster once and for all. He soaked the entire dock in gasoline and set it on fire. The monster unwittingly stumbled into the flames and burned to death. With all threats seemingly alleviated, Wilbur and Chick were now allowed a small measure of rest. This however was cut short as they soon discovered that they were sharing a boat with none other than the Invisible Man. Frightened, Wilbur and Chick dived off the boat and swam away. For all we know... they might still be swimming to this day.

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • Originally, Lou Costello had no interest in working on this film after reading the initial script treatment. Citing it as "crap", he noted that his daughter could write better material. Lou became more agreeable to the film when he learned that Charles Barton had been attached to the project as director. Barton had directed some of the more popular Abbott and Costello films in the past. [2]

External Links Edit

References Edit

  1. Date approximated based upon the age of actor Lou Costello
  2. IMDB; Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein; Trivia


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