Hollywood’s Maddest Doctors: A Biography of Lionel Atwill, Colin Clive, and Geoge Zucco
By Gregory William Mank
Midnight Marquee Press, 1998. 320 pages.
As one of Hollywood’s leading historians on the classic horror films and the people involved with them, anything you can find written by Mank is worth picking up for any horror fans film library. This title is a prime example of that. Over the years, I’ve heard/read lots of tales and rumors about the three actors that this book focuses on, but Mank sets the record straight, hearing from of the people that directly worked and new these three gentlemen of horror.
The book covers the lives and work of Lionel Atwill, Colin Clive, and George Zucco. All three of these should be well known, or at least recognizable to all horror fans, with Clive probably the most famous since he was the one that exclaimed the famous line “It’s Alive!” This book isn’t about the rumors or the lurid details of their lives, like some sort of a gosip column. Mank shows that these actors who might just be known for their horror characters, were very talented men when it came to their craft, but yet each one of them had their own internal demons to contend with, some harder and less successful than the others.
I’ve been a big fan of Atwill, always loving his demented characters, even in the little supporting roles, and I had read some of the stories about his little scandal. Same with Clive and him battling his demons of alcohol, and with Zucco supposedly ending up in a nut house. But Mank floods us with the correct information, dispelling some of the stories that makes the Hollywood tales become legendary. But he also gives a great look inside of these men, though they may have been troubled souls, still loved their work and excelled at it. While the film covers a wide variety of the pictures that they worked on, not just the horror pictures, it is still a very well worth volume and should be read and absorbed by any fan of the classic horror era. Highly recommended for fans of the classic era and those that want to learn more about these horror heroes.