Kenneth Strickfaden, innovative genius of illusionary special effects from silent films to the age of television, set the standard for Hollywood's mad scientists. Strickfaden created the science fiction apparatus in more than 100 motion picture films and television programs, from 1931's Frankenstein
to The Wizard of Oz
and The Mask of Fu Manchu
to television's "The Munsters." The skilled technician, known around Hollywood's back lots as "Mr. Electric," once doubled for Boris Karloff in a dangerous scene and was nearly electrocuted.
From his birth in 1896 to his death in 1984, Strickfaden's life was filled with adventure. He spent his early years working the amusement parks on both coasts, served overseas as a Marine during World War I, took a 1919 cross-country trip in a dilapidated Model T, and favored risky pursuits like automobile and speedboat racing. He worked as an aeronautical mechanic, constructing airplanes for an historic around-the-world flight. A science teacher at heart, he gave 1,500 traveling science demonstration lectures across the U.S. and Canada.
Besides covering Strickfaden's entire personal and professional life, this book discusses how later films show his influence. It reveals the fate of his collection of equipment, and is richly illustrated with numerous rare and previously unpublished photographs. Appendices provide a selection of notes, doodles, and scribbles from Strickfaden's notebooks, informal sketches, correspondence, documents, a chronology of his film and television contributions, a bibliography, a film index, and a complete subject index.