Many of us from the MonsterKid generation are fondly
remembering one of its founding fathers, Verne Langdon,
one week after his unexpected demise at the age of 69.
Born into a musical family, he was also a distant relation
of silent movie comedian Harry Langdon. With this strong
artistic endowment lacing his heredity, it's no surprise that
young Verne began his professional life as a radio personality
while still a teenager. His was the voice moderating a late
night show called "Langdon After Dark". This led to a
succession of careers that could practically qualify him as
a one-man talent agency: his extensive work as a makeup
artist can be seen in numerous motion pictures and television
productions. He wrote and contributed to articles for genre
magazines including Famous Monsters of Filmland though
sometimes under pseudonyms ("Lou Hunter" was one such).
He supervised the creation of custom monster masks, puppets,
and wax museum figures while co-owner of Don Post Studios
in Hollywood. He produced "Land of a Thousand Faces" and
"Castle Dracula", two stage spectacles for Universal Studios
Tour. He trained under cult luminary Tor Johnson as a pro
wrestler, eventually coaching his own stable of newcomers at
a gym called "Slammers".
Musically, lyricist Langdon performed and released vocal tracks
which often reflected events in his personal life. Instrumental
recordings demonstrate his virtuosity on keyboard, from the
sentimental piano featured on "Forever in Time" and "Key of
Sea" to more haunting fare exemplified by "Phantom of the
Organ" and "Poe with Pipes". There were occasional detours
into the absurd, notably while in the flamboyant guise and
improbable character of Johann Sebastian Bork.
Looking over this vast and varied resume`, one might assume
Verne Langdon endured a lifelong identity crisis but his friends
and fans know better. Here was a creative artist, moody and
perfectionistic as most are, forever reinventing himself both
public and privately. He's been quoted as saying:
"If you're going to do something, do it right. Otherwise, skip it.
Don't sit down and play Chopin's Polonaise half-assed because
everyone who knows it is going to know you're faking it. So
learn it before you play it. Do things the way they're supposed to
be done ... or don't."
I wish he was still here to inspire and entertain his admirers but
considering the artistry and craftsmanship he left behind, I'd
say he provided as well for us as a benevolent father figure.
In closing, a small picture gallery. Most are from gatherings
of the past ten years:
Verne Langdon greets the monsters as a guest at my place ~
'With a Mummy figure created in the
1960s for a promotional display ~
'A candid shot of Verne taken at a gathering
in Burbank CA. Behind him is a tribute poster
specially made for the occasion, featuring Verne
and his mask creations ~
In regal raiment and preposterous peruke,
Verne as Johann Sebastian Bork contemplates
his next outrage. 'From the album "Musical
As the sign indicates, Verne was real "out there"!
'A street sign in my neighborhood ~
'With longtime friends James Warren and
the late Forrest J Ackerman ~
'A custom picture cake, prepared for
Verne's 60th birthday celebration ~
'With RetroRubber's "Zombie" mask, recreated
from a 1970s era original by The Mask Doctor
and Verne ~
Verne joins Don Post and other artists
for a Studio reunion ~
If you have a story to share about Verne Langdon,
please reply. I'd enjoy reading all about it. Thanks!