Ah, the power of a blood-curdling scream. In the movies, that is.
We sometimes forget the enormous impact Hollywood (read the Motion Picture Industry) had and still has on international culture
A recent biographical sketch of the remarkable Brazilian popular novelist R. F. Lucchetti — published in the Oct. 18 edition of The New York Times — reminded us.
Lucchetti has written over 1500 pulp fiction novels, and although he has never traveled outside his native country he often cites in detail American locales, terms, and products in his work.
How? Why? Well, you guessed it.
He was a great fan of American movies, especially B films of the 1940s, just the kinds of movies we love. Luchetti was particularly inspired by the films of “Scream Queen” Evelyn Ankers, our star of the week.
Ankers was born in 1918 in Chile to British parents, and made her first films in England in the 1930s. But she hit her stride in Hollywood playing opposite Lon Chaney Jr. in the Wolfman movies. She costarred with Chaney in 1941’s The Wolf Man when she was only 23.
Ankers made more than 50 films in a career that spanned two decades. Her stock in trade was playing cultured young leading ladies, which fit nicely with her British heritage, with strong vocal chords. Her first movie for Universal was opposite the studio’s reigning comics at the time, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The movie was Hold That Ghost.
Ankers would later graduate to roles in 1942’s The Ghost of Frankenstein, 1943’s Son of Dracula, and 1945’s The Frozen Ghost. She married actor Richard Denning in 1942, her one and only husband.
One reason you may not have heard of Ankers is that her career was so short. A mere nine years after she first screamed at Lon Chaney Jr., she retired from making movies (at age 32).
She and Denning moved to Hawaii, and Ankers died there of ovarian cancer in 1985. She was only 67. We wonder if she ever realized that all that powerhouse vocalizing onscreen would wind up inspiring a once obscure writer who is now hailed as “Brazil’s eminence of pulp fiction.”