That was her name, or title, I suppose you'd say. "Beating Heart." It's on all the blueprints and on the schematics for the figure herself, but somehow it never made its way into public usage. Oh well.
This and the next post have been extensively rewritten several times over the years as new evidence has continued to come to light. With this topic in particular, sometimes we feel like we're barely treading water around here. The blog format proves extremely useful sometimes.
In our last exciting episode, we traced BH's roots from the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall to the red-hearted candle bearer in the attic. The project had proceeded to scale model phase, and still the attic ghostette wasn't clearly recognizable as a bride. This final touch to the character was probably added in 1968. The script for the "Story and Song" album refers to her as a bride, and this script in turn closely follows a '68 show script by X. Atencio. Whose idea was it to turn this ghost into a bride, anyway?
Ken Anderson makes a modest contribution, early in the process. He wrote four show scripts in 1957-58 (essentially four; some of them have alternate ideas already included in them). The first script in particular (Feb '57) is often cited as the beginning of our attic bride. In it, Beauregard the butler directs our attention to a painting and tells the sad story of Captain Bartholomew Gore (aka Gideon Gorelieu) and his young bride Priscilla.
When Priscilla discovers the horrible truth that her husband is, in fact, a bloodthirsty pirate, he kills her. Her ghost comes back for vengeance and eventually drives Capt. Gore to suicide. Now the place is haunted. Bingo, haunted house.
Okay, that seems clear. A tragic bride haunting the house, looking for revenge. Case closed. They just borrowed an old Ken Anderson idea. Well, not so fast. First of all, there's nothing associating Priscilla with the attic, and more importantly, she's a "bride" by definition b, not definition a. A bride is a woman soon to be wed or recently wed. The former wears a bridal gown; the latter wears a purple dress (or jeans, or whatevv), like our poor Priscilla. Aside from the bare fact that she exists not too far distant in time from her wedding day, Pris really has nothing in common with the familiar attic bride of the finished ride.
Anderson can be credited with the notion that a wedding gone awry would make a good basis for a haunted house, and notice that in that last scenario, an actual ghost bride would have been represented. This might be a good place to ask the question: "Do we ever encounter a ghost bride in popular (or unpopular) culture before now?" Somehow she feels familiar, or at least not odd, but examples of ghost brides are hard to find. Hard, but not impossible:
That's where BH was on opening day, and that's where I remember seeing her on August 14th. New info: A large plastic sheet (called "nylon 6") was in front of her, stretched from post to post and floor to ceiling, probably with the intent of making her appearance fuzzier. That too jibes with my memory. I remember her slowly rocking back and forth in an area that reminded me of a door frame, and she was definitely murky.
She was only there a month or two. When the (infamous) Hatbox Ghost, which was located near the exit on the right, failed to perform as hoped and was removed, BH was transplanted to his old spot. There she remained from Aug-Oct 1969 until May 2006, when she jumped the track to the other side and became Constance, that zany hubby-whackin' axe murderer.
What did that original "Beating Heart" bride look like? She bore a strong resemblance to the corpse phase of the Marc Davis changing portrait above, and so that version of the bride has picked up the name "Corpse Bride." For the Disneyland original, we have a number of good photos of the figure, from pre-opening photos of the figure before installation, down to 1975. Here's a montage of those:
The eyes of the Corpse Bride were never very bright, so they don't show up except very dimly in one frame:
original looked like, and based on available evidence I'd say it's pretty accurate. Kids, hide your eyes!
Okay, fine. Not my fault if you have nightmares. Where are your parents?
There are enough idiosyncrasies about it that at least one intelligent observer has argued that it is a pre-opening prototype and not a production figure. The most glaring problem is the slit-like eyes. No other bride photo shows anything like that. Highly suspect.
In fairness, those eyes might be a conservative hold-over from the design you see in the maquette figure, which also has slittish eyes:
Not only that, but as it happens the mechanical design of the lighted eyes would allow for any amount of manipulation of their shape. You just mask the WALL -E eye box in her head (well, that's what it reminds me of) in any way you think appropriate and get any shape eye you want.