Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ed Wood Wednesdays: Bela's Letter to a Fan by Greg Dziawer

This ad for The Bela Lugosi Revue appeared in The Las Vegas Sun in February 1954.

NOTE: Happy greetings and seasons holidays, dear readers! Before I head out of town to visit relatives for Christmas, I thought I'd post this week's Ed Wood Wednesdays. Again, it comes to us through the courtesy of Mr. Greg Dziawer, who has been delving through the archives to find rarities related to Edward D. Wood, Jr. This week, he has discovered a most interesting document: a 1954 letter supposedly penned by Bela Lugosi with a brief addendum by Ed Wood himself. Please enjoy and have the merriest of Christmases. I'll see you on the other side of the holiday. J.B.

Image courtesy of the Movie Monster Museum.

Ed Wood clearly wrote this entire letter, signed from Bela in response to a fan – not just the added note to encourage others to write Bela, signed by Ed as Bela's "Producer." The letter perfectly summarizes the projects Bela and Ed were then working on. On March 19, 1954, Bela was in the second and last month of a run at the Silver Slipper ("More & More Jackpots") in Las Vegas. The Bela Lugosi Revue was a burlesque show, spoofing among other things Dracula, Bela hosted four shows a night – the first at 9pm, the last at 2:30am - for two straight months. He checked himself into rehab just a few months later. The show featured Tere Sheehan's ("The Girl in the Champagne Glass") burlesque act, "Champagne Fantasy," which she performed at the Slipper through the 1950s as part of Hank Henry's house troupe.

(left) The Silver Slipper advertises The Bela Lugosi Revue.
(right) Pull da string! Tere Sheehan's Champagne Fantasy.

The fan, whose first name is redacted, was easily identified as Henry Mazzeo, Jr. of Yonkers, who also submitted a letter to "Dear Uncle Creepy" in the sixth issue of Warren's Creepy magazine, from 1964, making the controversial claim that vampires can come out in sunlight. Reading between the lines of the letter, the "group" Ed refers to that Henry is urged to encourage to write Bela is a fan club.

Henry Mazzeo wrote more than just fan letters.

Don't just take my word on it that Ed wrote this entire response. On an IMDb board in 2012, a user called billymac107 made this astute observation:
I came across a letter from Bela to a fan which was obviously typed by Ed, I say obviously because as I am sure you are aware Ed was a lighting fast typist and if you examine the letter you can see that most of the capital letters are at a different level than the rest of the text, indicating the shift key did not have time to properly return, if you get my meaning.
Speaking of which, makes me wonder if Bela could even type?

Happy Holidays!

Special thanks to Movie Monster Museum for their help with this article.