Title: The Corps Vanishes
Author: Elliott Capon
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Zoltan Szábo and his wife Hilka, the first couple of the Romanian theatre, are forced to flee the fascists in the mid-1930s and wind up in Hollywood. Big stars in Europe, Zoltan is relegated to playing a two-bit Poverty Row vampire again and again, while his incredibly beautiful wife, Hilka, gets a handful of small pointless roles. Zoltan resents the overwhelming success of Britisher, Ivan Chernov, former truck driver turned actor, whose deforming facial war wounds (not any notable talent) make him the perfect horror movie star. Everyone knows about Zoltan’s resentment, and when Chernov is killed by someone who seems to think he’s a vampire, guilt by public acclimation is Zoltan’s fate…and now he can’t find work (even his own bloodsucker, i.e. his agent, deserts him). Mocked by the press and getting little cooperation from the police with the sort-of help of Hilka (who puts her uncontrollable nymphomania to good use) and his friend, a homosexual screenwriter named Winston, Zoltan sets out across the high and low places (mostly the low) of Hollywood to find out for himself: whodunit?
From The Hollywood Tattle-Tale, Monday, October 20, 1935:
Peekin' and Speakin'
…blah blah blah Alan Ladd….blah blah blah Samuel Goldwyn…blah blah blah Jean Harlow…blah blah blah James Cagney…Apparently a certain bloodsucker is just a plain old sucker! Our everseeing eyes and overhearing ears have it on good authority that at a party at the home of the dime-a-dozen-er comic Russ Taggert, a certain European import had a major ex—or was it im?—plosion of monumental proportions. Since half the rant (yes, reader, the RANT!) was in some foreign tongue, we can't know completely what the erstwhile Baron Schwartzherz said (oops, did we let the bat out of the bag? Mee—yoow!), but the Baron, aka, Mr. Hilka Szabó (and a yum yummy yum yum and a wink to those in the know—whoa, whoa!) apparently has a non-brotherly love affection for horror and menace Star of Stars, Ivan Chernov! Several very credible witnesses report to us that Zoltán Szabó (oops, we let his name slip!) got as plastered as a stuccoed bungalow and went off on a profanity-laced (we shudder! we tremble!) rant, the gist of which being that the "B" picture stalwart (that's "B" for "Bat—ty!") is so possessed of the green-eyed monster toward Chernov, that we think Zolty's next job in show business will be posing in a leaf-toga on a can of corn (yow, that's a stretched metaphor, huh, kids?) He called Chernov every name in the book, and even a few that we haven't seen in the book yet! Called him a no-talent, f—-er, fellow, and cried—not like the Town Crier cries, joes and janes, but Cried Like a Baby because Ivan the Wonderful gets all the plum roles and the plum digs and the plum paychex while all Moltin' Zoltán gets is the pits! Yowza, whatever happened to HONOUR among thieves in this burg? Backbiting is supposed to be done BEHIND SOMEONE'S BACK!! We guess they do it different in Spotsylvania, or wherever the Szabós are from. One thing's for sure—Zolt the Dolt ain't gonna need glasses in the near future, because he sure done make a SPECTACLE of himself Saturday night!…blah blah blah Fay Wray…blah blah blah Shirley Temple….blah blah blah Carole Lombard…
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