Curt Siodmak

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(1902 -- September 2, 2000)

Born Kurt Siodmak in Dresden, Germany, Siodmak acquired a university degree in math/engineering before be began to write novels. He invested early royalties earned by his first books into the movie Menschem am Sonntag (1929), a chronicle of the lives of four Berliners on a Sunday based on their own lives. The movie was co-directed by Siodmak's older brother Robert and Edgar G. Ulmer -- with a script by Billy Wilder. This movie is credited with inventing a new movie genre. Siodmak later stated that he did not receive any credit for the movie and that writers were never recognized properly in the movie industry, only directors and actors.

Siodmak early showed evidence that he was destined to become a writer. He published his first fiction, a fairy tale, when he was only eight years old. In the following years Siodmak wrote many novels, screenplays, and short stories -- including the novel F. P. 1 Doesn't Answer (1933), which became a popular movie starring Peter Lorre.

Siodmak decided to emigrate after hearing an anti-semitic tirade by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and left Germany for England where he made a living as a screenwriter before moving to the United States in 1937.

His big break in the United States came with his screenplay for The Wolf Man (1941), starring Lon Chaney, Jr., which established this fictional creature as one of the most popular movie monsters of the time. In the film Siodmak created many of the werewolf legends now accepted by movie audiences (e. g., being marked by a pentagram; being practically immortal apart from being struck/shot by silver implements/bullets; etc. He also wrote the famous verse:

Even a man who is pure in heart,
And says his prayers by night
May become a Wolf when the Wolfbane blooms
And the autumn Moon is bright" (later "And the Moon is full and bright"

Siodmak's SF novel Donovan's Brain (1942) was a bestseller that was reprinted many times, translated into several languages, and adapted for movies (once as The Lady and the Monster). Other genre films Siodmak wrote were Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, I Walked With a Zombie, and The Beast with Five Fingers.

He died in his sleep September 2, 2000, at his home in Three Rivers, California. He was married to Swiss Baroness Henrietta Erna de Perrot for 76 years. They had one child, son Geoffrey.

His genre novels included the following: F. P. 1 Does Not Reply (Little, Brown, 1933) [a trans-Atlantic flight involving a floating station in the Atlantic Ocean]; Donovan's Brain (Knopf, 1943) [a biochemist keeps a dead millionaire's brain alive in an electrically charged, oxygenated saline solution within a glass tank]; Riders to the Stars (1953) [(with Robert Smith) astronauts are sent into space to capture a meteor and bring it back to Earth]; Skyport (1959) [a scientist wants to build an orbiting space city]; Hauser's Memory (1968) [the Nobel Prize-winning scientist from Donovan's Brain, the world's leading authority on RNA, now works for the CIA]; The Third Ear (1971) [a scientist discovers a chemical that can give anyone extrasensory perception]; City in the Sky (1974) [a 2,000-page SF novel, cut down to 220 printed pages!]; and Gabriel's Body (1992) [disfigured in an explosion, a biochemist selects the body of a brain-dead but physically flawless young man to use as his own].

He was the subject of a Neglected Genre Author article by Jon D. Swartz in May, 2018 issue National Fantasy Fan (IA).

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

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