Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Sunday blog log: RIP Richard Sheffield

On Sundays at Plan9Crunch, Steve Stones and I (Doug Gibson) will offer a paragraph or two about books we've read, movies we plan to review and other news. Just I few hours ago I learned the sad news, via the Facebook page of Bela "Dracula" Lugosi, that Richard Sheffield has died suddenly at age 74. Richard was the co-author with Gary Don Rhodes of the excellent book, Dreams and Nightmares, (buy it here) that detailed Lugosi's final years. Richard, as a teen in Los Angeles, befriended the aging Lugosi and provided the movie star a lot of happiness in his final years. In fact, Sheffield was the last person to see Lugosi alive, visiting him a few hours prior to his death in August of 1956.

I just finished re-reading Arthur Lennig's great bio of Lugosi, "The Immortal Count," and earlier Saturday evening, had polished off the final few chapters, which are replete with tales of the teen Sheffield, and his pals, hanging out with Bela, his final wife, Hope, and Forrest Ackerman. I'm actually envious when I read of how Richard and Lugosi would spend evenings doing scenes from "Dracula," with Richard taking the Renfield role. ... Ironically, about a week ago I finished reading Don Rhodes latest Lugosi book, "The Forgotten Years," which deals with Lugosi's career in the last half of the 1940s, and is full of interesting, detailed information about his stage work in that time, including summer stock and spook shows.

If you want the best books about Lugosi, you can't go wrong with authors Lennig, Don Rhodes and Sheffield, as well as Frank Dello Stritto and Andi Rhodes, who wrote a fascinating account of Lugosi's 1951 "Dracula" stage tour in England as well as detailed recaps of his English films. ... Again, RIP Richard Sheffield, and enjoy your reunion with Bela!

Last week I watched the 1944 Bela Lugosi Monagram film "Voodoo Man" and plan to review it. I watched comedy shorts from the Stooges, Harry Langdon and Ben Turpin and hope to include those on the blog. I am awaiting via Amazon a couple of Lugosi films, the 1941 "The Black Cat" and the '40s "Night Monster," with an eye to review both soon. ... I was on vacation from the Standard-Examiner this week and the SE cartoonist and I enjoyed watching "Best Worst Movie," the tribute to "Troll 2." ... A week ago, Steve and I discussed Torture Dungeon; watch for a video soon!

-- Doug Gibson

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