Zucco

                   

       

I really like George Zucco now. When I was a kid, I didn’t know who he was, despite reading about him in horror movie books (the Gifford) and then seeing him in films. He just seemed like one of the nondescript B actors he was surrounded by. Karloff and Lugosi were distinctive, and they played named monsters. Zucco and Atwill seem like the really alarming ones now, since they didn’t have to do very much or be Hungarian in order to seem scary. “Pinky” Atwill seems to have been a colossal perv, but I don’t know a thing about Zucco’s personal life except I believe he was fond of a dram. But he had some kind of instant connection to the sinister.

5 Responses to “Zucco”

  1. He had a withered arm. Wonderful actor. I think he died in 1960 after years of poor health.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Via Wikipedia: “Kenneth Anger, in his 1988 book Hollywood Babylon II, claimed that Zucco had died in a madhouse, convinced that he was being haunted by H.P. Lovecraft’s creation Cthulhu, and that Zucco’s wife and daughter had committed suicide in response to the loss. Zucco’s widow was still alive and well when Anger’s book was published, and she later gave an interview to Filmfax magazine about Anger’s erroneous claims.”

  3. “Anger’s erroneous claims”? Perish the thought.
    Our Ken, however, was particularly tasty re Albert “Dr Cyclops” Dekker’s unusual taste in clothing. And auto-asphyxiation.

    Zucco’ mesmerising, stern appearance has always fascinated me since my first issue of FM appeared at a local newsagent just outside Victoria Station on Victoria Avenue in Southend High Street instantly to be claimed by me (Queen Victoria had a long association with Southend, there was a very imposing statue of the old bat on the cliffs, pointing out at the Thames Estuary, doubtless trying to warn us that Conrad’s heart of Darkness was to begin at that exact location, and Wells’s Martian tripods were soon to be responsible for all that loss of ships and life in the waters off Shoeburyness.

    On reflection, it was actually FM issue no 2, so that will have been 1958 and I was 7 or 8. Forry’s magazine was a mind-shaping joy in those years. And I still wonder what happened to all the issues I accumulated thru the mid 1970s.

    Dead Man Walk, which David has posted above, was on Turner Classics recently; the print was so awful (the same print Alpha Video so shamelessly marketed) that it was virtually unwatchable.

    Zucco deserved much more thoughtful attention than he ever received. As you say, he had an inherently sinister presence, unforced and compelling. Wish I’d met him; he was a Manchester lad, did lots of theatre work, was the sort of theatrical type my Dad (speaking of enjoying a wee dram) always liked and with whom he would’ve got on well. And it is so ineffably sad that Zucco developed Alzheimer’s, an awful final curtain for any actor.

  4. Yes, the dread of a failing memory is a threat to all of us, but actors suffer in a special way.

    I still owe myself a viewing of Dead Men Walk, iirc correctly, as part of my suspended-for-now mission to see every film illustrated in A Pictorial History of Horror Movies by Denis Gifford.

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