Y is for Irvin Yeaworth

This is my contribution to ABC Wednesday and for Round Ten I am focusing on people from the past, some famous, others less so.

The Blob PosterIt may come as a surprise, but the 1958 cult classic sci-fi movie, The Blob, was directed by Presbyterian minister, Irvin Yeaworth, owner of Christian production company, Good News Productions.

Yeaworth was born in Berlin in 1926 and began his show business career at the age of ten, singing on KDKA in Pittsburgh, the world’s first commercial radio station.

He went on to become a radio producer, but by the 1950s he was producing films with a morality message that he hoped would appeal to a young audience.

Yeaworth’s first attempt in 1956 was a short film The Flaming Teen-Age, ‘a shocking true story’ about a youngster who runs off to the big city and ends up becoming an alcoholic and a junkie. (You can see the trailer at Daily Motion)

It wasn’t great box-office, but it did lead to him being approached by producer Jack Harris who wanted to direct a film along the lines of The Thing and he chose Yeaworth because he was cheap.

Irvin Yeaworth

Irvin Yeaworth

Yeaworth was nervous of associating Good News Productions with a teen-exploitation film, but it was an opportunity to raise revenue to fund more worthy works, so he set up the separate Valley Forge Films to produce it.

The Blob was produced on a budget of $130,000 and gave Steve McQueen (then Steven) his first starring film role as the small town teenage hero who battles the extraterrestrial red jelly.

Yeaworth saw it as a metaphor for the creeping communist menace and the theme song, Beware of the Blob, was co-written by the then unknown Burt Bacharach.

Steve McQueen in the BlobParamount bought The Blob for $300,000, an instant profit for Yeaworth and Harris, although it has since made millions for its 1950s kitsch.

Yeaworth used his share to fund Secret Island, a tv show providing morality lessons to pre-school children.

He also made more sci-fi films, like 4D Man, as well as others with a religious or ethical theme.

Yeaworth died in a car crash in Amman, Jordan, in 2004 while involved in building the theme park, the Jordanian Experience at the Aquaba Gateway.

For those who may have missed The Blob, below is part one from YouTube, sadly not including Burt Bacharach’s theme tune.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

11 comments… Add yours
  • Roger Green 4th July 2012

    How HAVE I lived this long having missed the theme for The Blob? I’m better? for it.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

    Reply
  • Irvin Pudding 4th July 2012

    Shame Yeaworth isn’t still around to make a metaphorical film about the creeping threat of the corrupt and greedy banking menace. He could have called it “The Hogs” and it would have sent out an important moral message to today’s youth.

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 4th July 2012

    Totally agree YP. Or how about ‘Diamonds Are Forever Taking the Piss’? (think about it)

    Reply
  • John 4th July 2012

    Very interesting.

    Y is for…
    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

    Reply
  • chrisj 5th July 2012

    Really very interesting . What a variety of things he did with his life!

    Reply
  • Meryl 6th July 2012

    What a COOL post!!!! So timely too. I am putting together my notes for moderating a panel at the San Diego Comic-con next week – and talking about the Comic Code Authority, Wertheimer, and how far things have come -especially comics for kids…but seeing this – maybe they haven’t …A Methodist minister ministering The Blob!!! Again, how cool. Thanks for the tidbits – have a great week.

    Reply
  • Trevor Rowley 6th July 2012

    On Ashton (under-Lyne) market, a couple of days ago, I rummaged through items for sale on a stall selling DVDs. I came across The Blob alongside other classics (?) such as “The House on Haunted Hill” (was this the one with the “Frightometer” where you were given a “countdown” warning telling you that if you were of a nervous disposition you now had something like twenty seconds to leave the theatre?) and “The Fall of the House of Usher” (Vincent Price was like a man possessed in this one). The DVDs were all reasonably priced at £2-00 and had obviously been put together in somebody’s back bedroom and bore the disclaimer something like “In producing these DVDs, there has been no breach of copyright.” I think the implication was that they could already be accessed quite lawfully on the internet. Yer pays yer money and takes yer choice, I suppose. I wasn’t tempted but, maybe next time.

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 7th July 2012

    Ah, Vincent Price, the Frightmeister! I think would have been tempted by the DVDs which would then have gathered dust with the other ‘classics’ that I haven’t got round to watching!

    Reply
  • Irvin S. Yeaworth, III 10th July 2012

    While there is some truth in your post, there are more than a few factual errors. I don’t have time to go into them, but I will correct the first and one of the most glaring: we Yeaworths were Presbyterian not Methodist. Ted Simonson, who wrote the screenplay was a Methodist minister. My grandfather, great-uncle and my father’s brother were Presbyterian ministers. My father was a “minister of music” at several churches for about 40 years and my mother (who wrote ‘The Love Theme from The Blob’) was the organist at those churches.

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 10th July 2012

    I apologise for any unintentional factual errors and am happy to correct them, as I have with the one you have pointed out. Your father was an interesting man and I have gleaned the information for this article from several sources, but accept the blame for any misrepresentation.

    Reply

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