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 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. This work covers Strickfaden's entire personal and professional life in film, from his birth in 1896, through his early years working the amusement parks on both coasts, his service overseas as a Marine during World War I, his 1919 cross-country trip in a dilapidated Model T, and his efforts in animal conservation. He participated in such dangerous activities as automobile and speedboat racing and worked as an aeronautical mechanic, constructing airplanes for a historic around-the-world flight. A science teacher at heart, he gave 1,500 traveling science demonstration lectures across the US and Canada.
The work covers his death at 1984, the later films that show his influence, and the fate of his collection of equipment, and is richly illustrated with numerous rare and previously unpublished photographs.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 his notebooks, informal sketches, correspondence, documents, a chronology of his film and television contributions, a bibliography, a film index, and a complete subject index.