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Friday, December 30, 2005



American-International Stages A Premiere

Colonel Roy Forehand was the manager of our local Liberty Theatre when I was growing up, and every three or so months, I would venture up to his office where an accumulation of movie pressbooks would be waiting. He'd been passing them along to me since the beginning of school year in 1964, and I happily recall that crisp September day when I came home to find the Black Sabbath and Masque Of The Red Death campaign manuals lying on my bedspread (a gift from Mr. Forehand via my father). From that moment, I was hooked on pressbooks (still am!). By the Summer of 1965, I was a seasoned collector, and that's when Tomb Of Ligeia was scheduled to play the Liberty. My personal crisis arose when Mr. Forehand booked the feature as a "Late Show" on a Saturday night --- 9:30 p.m. only. My heart sank when I saw the modest newspaper ad. There was no way my parents would allow me to attend a movie at such an hour, and those "Late Shows" had a frightening reputation among schoolmates (and their parents). I was told of children who had entered the Liberty for a 9:30 movie, and were never seen again. The boy's bathroom could be a frightful place on a Saturday night --- those monsters with their cigarettes and steel-tipped boots you could see under the door from the stairs were far more terrifying than anything on the screen in the auditorium. To walk into that bathroom was to enter the jaws of something worse than death, and yet --- I just had to see Tomb Of Ligeia! My pleas that week to Mr. Forehand were at first met with indifference. He was all set for a 9:30 show, and that was that. As days went by, I was increasingly desperate. After all, had I not previously missed The Last Man On Earth, Devil Doll, and The Unearthly Stranger because they too, were "Late Shows Only"? Finally, within days --- no, within agonizing hours of the appointed playdate, he relented and agreed to an "all-day" booking. NOW --- How does all this digression relate to the image at right? Well, this little flyer was inserted into the pressbook which was given me by the self-same Col. Forehand back in 1965 when Tomb Of Ligeia was brand new, and I've never seen it turn up anywhere else. That's why I'm posting it here, plus the fact that it displays quite a bizarre combination of personalities for that long-ago premiere. Just highlight the image and check out the fotos. That "hunchback" participant, unless I'm wrong, appears to be wearing a Don Post mask, and yes, that's Carroll Borland (her name's misspelled in the blurb) appearing in character as the vampire woman, over 30 years after her supporting role in Mark Of The Vampire. Maila Nurmi (name also misspelled!), maintaining her dignity, is clad in more or less straight attire. I wonder if Carroll got around to confronting Maila about the "Vampira" image that the latter had more or less filched from the former for the well-remembered 50's late night horror show. As for Elsa Lanchester, was she there at the behest, or insistence, of AIP execs? Having recently finished Pajama Party for the company, perhaps she was hopeful of further employment. Vincent Price, as we all know, was a good sport, and always willing to enter into the spirit of such folderal for the sake of publicity, and although he's not visible in any of these shots, I strongly suspect the background presence of Forey Ackerman amidst the throng. Maybe he brought along that mask for the erstwhile Hunchback.

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