The guy who directed the 1958 kitsch sci-fi classic, The Blob, died July 19 in Amman, Jordan, as the result of a single-car accident. Irvin Yeaworth Jr, 78 (at right, in 1995), was working on the Jordan Experience, an entertainment complex with a walk-through history exhibit, in the port of Aqaba, when he fell asleep at the wheel and his car swerved off the road. The son of a Presbyterian minister, “Shorty” Yeaworth began his career in show business when he was 10, singing on the first radio station in the world, KDKA in Pittsburgh. Though his real passion, as it were, was making religious films (he made hundreds), he directed The Blob (starring a then-unknown Steven McQueen and some wobbly red silicone rubber) and two other science fiction movies, 4D Man and Dinosaurus! Yeaworth has said that he made The Blob – which, reports the LA Times, nearly was called The Molten Meteor, The Glob, The Night of the Creeping Dead, or The Glob That Girdled the Globe – because he wondered if he could “communicate with the secular audience.” Turns out he could. The film cost $140,000 to make and was an unexpected hit for its distributor, Paramount – and to this day it continues to be a cult phenom. Cast and crew worked 20 hours a day, six days a week for six weeks, much of the film being shot in Yeaworth’s back yard in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. They might have worked seven days, but Yeaworth was needed to play the organ at church on Sundays. Before all the Blob fuss, Yeaworth made The Flaming Teen Age, in 1956. If the title doesn’t grab your attention, perhaps IMDb’s synopsis will:
A small town boy heads for the lights of the big city and discovers the delights of hard liquor and fast women. Ere long, he becomes an addict, a dope peddler and a shop-lifter to obtain money for drugs.
William A. Mitchell, the man responsible for a lot of the legal, FDA-approved chemicals that went into our bodies in the ’70s, died last Monday of congestive heart failure, in Stockton, reports the LA Times. He was 92. During his 35-year employ at General Foods in White Plains, New York, Mitchell held more than 70 patents for inventions related to Cool Whip, quick-set Jell-O, and Tang. During WWII, when tapioca supplies were running low (why have we never of this before?), he came up with a substitute for the pudding ingredient and, in a brief stint at Eastman Kodak, he helped design a chemical process to develop the color green. Huh? Hasn’t there always been green? Anyway, his most famous invention was Pop Rocks, the candy that became a mad craze in 1976 because it exploded like tiny fireworks in the mouth. And elsewhere, I’ve heard. Pop Rocks happened by accident when he combined sugar and carbon dioxide in his mouth while trying to invent an instant soft drink.