Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D.
Host, 'Mysteries From Beyond the Other Dominion'
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Intriguing Factoids From the Horror/Sci-Fi/Mystery Genre
Posted: 12/27/11 11:16 AM ET
Was actress Gloria Dickson fated to die tragically by a scene in her penultimate film? Did monstrous actor Rondo Hatton actually suffer from acromegaly, which gave him a grotesque head? Was raven-haired Vampira in reality a Scandinavian blonde?
These are just a few of the engrossing film factoids from the sci-fi/horror/mystery realm that we now disclose:
-Actress Gloria Dickson began her career as a loyal wife trying valiantly to save her wrongly convicted husband from execution in 1937's They Won't Forget (Lana Turner's 1st important role, as a murder victim), then appeared in a number of dramas and mysteries, such as 1938's Racket Busters and 1939's They Made Me A Criminal.
Undoubtedly, her most intriguing role was in 1943's Crime Doctor's Strangest Case, in which she was a woman of mystery who used 2 names and was married to a man (Jerome Cowan) who repeatedly tossed down lighted cigarettes which ignited fires. Less than 2 years later, on April 10, 1945, Dickson died tragically in a house fire in Hollywood, started by, as fate would have it, a lighted cigarette!
Ruehl Fact: After suffering from a nervous breakdown, Columbia rewarded veteran actor Warner Baxter (who had won an Academy Award as Best Actor for his role of "The Cisco Kid" in 1929's In Old Arizona) with the "Crime Doctor" series, of which he only had to make no more than 2 episodes a year. He starred in 10 entries from 1943 through 1949, but never recovered his health and died at age 61 in 1951.
-Rondo Hatton starred in 1946's Brute Man as a college football hero whose face was disfigured by a chemistry accident. This parallelled his true situation, where he had a normal face until being exposed to poison gas during WWI, which triggered the onset of the head-enlarging syndrome known as acromegaly.
He also essayed the role of "The Creeper" in 2 films, 1944's The Pearl of Death (a Sherlock Holmes entry starring Basil Rathbone), and 1946's House of Horrors (where he was exploited by an evil artist played by Martin Kosleck), but was not involved in 1948's The Creeper.
Off camera, he was a gentle, deeply religious individual who had a devoted wife. Sadly, he died shortly before turning 52 in 1946 from coronary thrombosis triggered by chronic myocarditis as a result of the acromegaly.
Ruehl Fact: Acromegaly brought on by experiments in gigantism afflicted a scientist (Leo G. Carroll, best known for his starring role in the 1953-55 Topper TV series about ghosts) and 2 of his associates in the 1957 creature feature, Tarantula (a Universal film starring John Agar).
-Long raven hair! A skin-tight black gown! Long, threatening fingernails! Piercing eyes capped by thin black brows! These were the tools that TV legend Vampira employed to both terrify and engage late night TV audiences of the 1950s!
However, the dark-haired femme fatale was actually a Scandinavian blonde who was born Maila Syrjaniemi in Petsamo , Finland back on December 11, 1921. That surname was later truncated to Nurmi. Indeed, the renowned multiple Olympic medal runner Paavo Nurmi was her uncle. She arrived in the U.S. as an infant, and travelled around the country as her father lectured on temperance.
As an adult, she was performing in Mike Todd's "Spook Scandals" when celebrated director Howard Hawks caught sight of the beauty and cast her in the cinematic version of the Russian novel, "Dreadful Hollow." However, Nurmi walked out on her contract after being utterly disillusioned by repeated production delays.
She then tried modeling and dancing, including a long stint with Earl Carroll's revues. Her breakthrough came when, for a masquerade competition, she costumed herself in the mode of Charles Addams' Morticia cartoon character. Not only did she win 1st prize, but also landed a contract with the local L.A. ABC affiliate channel 7 for a late night hosting gig for horror films for the 1954-55 season. Impressively, she was nominated for an Emmy for "Most Outstanding Female Personality," and was profiled in such mags as "TV Guide," "Newsweek," and "Life."
Fan clubs sprung up all over the globe as she became a quite recognizable figure, making guest appearances at store openings and judging contests. She was dubbed the "Queen of Horror," with songs composed to honor her!
Bela Lugosi was also a fan, and was delighted when she joined him as his dead wife in 1956's Plan 9 From Outer Space. Unfortunately, he died 2 weeks into production.
Vampira's fame quickly expired after that, with only a few scant film roles, such as in 1959's Beat Generation and 1960's Sex Kittens Go To College. She did engage in painting, creating some "Vampira" portraits, and made a final screen appearance in 1998's I Woke Up Early The Day I Died.
Ruehl Fact: Nurmi sued Cassandra Peterson, asserting that her "Elvira" characterization was a ripoff of "Vampira," but lost the case in court. She died January 10, 2007, in her sleep at the age of 86.
My video critique of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" featuring Vampira and Bela Lugosi:
Friday, December 9, 2011
December 9, 2011
2012 BLOG HUFFPOST HILL 2012
Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D..Host, 'Mysteries From Beyond the Other Dominion'
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This Week's Realm of Bizarre News Top 7
Posted: 12/8/11 01:38 PM ET React Amazing
Follow Video , Dr.Ruehl , Mice Attack Cows , Realm Of Bizarree News , Use a Vacuum Cleaner Vs Fleas , Butter Attack , Cricket Sounds Deafen You , Weird News .
This Week's "Realm of Bizarre News" Top 7
- Ouch! Angry gal down in Collier County, Georgia got into a heated dispute with her roommate over who paid for which food. Finally, she hurled a stick of butter at him, striking him in the ankle! Surprisingly, she was later arrested for assault and battery (or, should that be "buttery?").
- Eek! Cows are being attacked by, of all creatures, ravenous mice down in South Australia! The starving rodents actually are hopping on the backs of bovines and chewing them up alive! One farmer has been spreading engine oil on the cows' bodies to protect them from the mice.
(Trivia Q: What is the term for the fear of mice? Answer below)
- Larry Fick of Auburn, Michigan won a $2 million lottery in June of 2010, yet still receives food stamps! Amazingly, this is completely legal because lump-sum payments such as his are not counted in assessing an individual's eligibility for food assistance!
- A most unusual phobia: Phoebe Tann, 19, of Maidstone , Kent , England is absolutely terrified of toilet paper! The problem began 6 years ago when her mom sent her to the market to purchase some TP and she freaked out! She has even undergone hypnotherapy to overcome her phobia, but to no avail. So, the TP in the bathroom must always be covered so she does not see it!
- Staffers at the SkyCity Casino in Auckland , New Zealand , are wearing pet flea collars around their ankles to ward off attacks by biting fleas! They have been complaining about the problem for months and finally resorted to this measure as daily cleanings of the floor have failed to deter the bugs.
- Incredible! A patient at the St.Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor , Michigan was emitting poison gas as a result of ingesting rat poison! To protect other patients and staffers, he was placed in isolation and even monitored by a Hazmat team! Thankfully, at last report, his condition was improving.
- Hold your ears! According to Dr,.Todd Rickettts, associate professor of hearing and speech at Vanderbilt University (Nashville,TN), the chirping(actually, love songs) of cicadas can damage human hearing as the sounds reach 86 decibels (85 decibels is the threshold for safety). This is especially worrisome as 17-year cicadas have just been emerging from their hiatus and are chirping away in Tennessee and 12 other states.
Trivia answer: The fear of mice is musophobia (aka muriphobia).
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