Arthur Mandelko Jr.

Saucerian

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#1
Did a search on the ForteanTimes board and came up with no results for Arthur Mandelko Jr, the Hollywood Superman who froze himself to death in 1970.

While he might largely be forgotten today, I do remember that a few years back a woman had dedicated a film she had made, or was it a book? to Arthru Mandaelko Jr. and possibly some others in addition.

Also, there was at least one film made of a story similar to that of Mr. Mandelko, about a lonely man who froze himself to death.

I'm going to do a Google search and see if I can come up with anything.

Mr. Mandelko's suicide made newspaper headlines at about the same time as that of the Bunny Man.
 
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EnolaGaia

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#3
Did a search on the ForteanTimes board and came up with no results for Arthur Mendalko Jr, the Hollywood Superman who froze himself to death in 1970. ...
Do you have any additional factoids on this case? Are you absolutely certain about the name?
 

Saucerian

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#4
Now that I'd pay money to see.
skinny, thanks for pointing out the tyop error, which I have now corrected.

Typo errors can be so much fun that it often grieves me to correct them, but in this case it was necessary.

Glad you and I and anybody else had some fun with the typo error "frooze" although there is nothing funny
about a person freezing to death.
 

Saucerian

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#5
Do you have any additional factoids on this case? Are you absolutely certain about the name?
EnolaGaia, I am not absolutely certain on the spelling of the name, and in the past I have mis-spelled it, which has caused me some problems doing net searches.

I am not certain now if I have the original newspaper clipping, likely from the Charlotte, North Carolina Observer, from the fall of 1970.

I might today have only a note on the date and source rather than the newspaper story itself.

The headline read: "Hollywood Superman Freezes Self To Death." When I first saw it, I was confused, because I knew that George Reeves, who played Superman on TV was reported to have shot himself to death.

So, I read the story and found out this was not the TV actor but a man who was described as "one of Hollywood's odddest."

He was said to have subsisted on a diet of Cutty Sark Scotch, and Hostess Twinkies. He was concerned about crime, and had a robot equipped with "elaborate electronic devices, none of which worked," to sniff out illegal drugs (or, was it a dog, and and / or a robot? Can't quote accurately, until I have the text of the original report.

Arthur then started wearing a Superman costume in his fight against crime, and disturbed his neighbors by jumping onto the roof tops of their houses.

When he disappeared, and got behind in his rent, the landlord of his apartment went to clean it out, and was able to get the refrigerator door open only far enough to see that it had a rope tied to it. After cutting the rope, the landlord found the frozen body of Arthur, holding the rope.

I think the story was from a wire service, probably AP or UPI. I would think it would be easy to find on a Google or other newspaper archive search, although the spelling of the name could present a problem.

If I find any more in my own records, or through net searches, I'll post it here.
 

EnolaGaia

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#6
Thanks for the additional data. As of this morning there was no trace of any 'Arthur Mendalko' to be found except for your original post above. The similar name 'Mendalka' also yielded zero hits.

The label 'Hollywood Superman' has been applied to LA-area eccentrics as well as street impersonators who hang out around celebrities' Walk of Fame memorials.

I can find a ton of references to one or more such 'Hollywood Supermen' from recent decades, but nothing about anyone under this label who died in 1970.

I don't think can be any progress on this until you come up with the actual name ...
 

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#7
When he disappeared, and got behind in his rent, the landlord of his apartment went to clean it out, and was able to get the refrigerator door open only far enough to see that it had a rope tied to it. After cutting the rope, the landlord found the frozen body of Arthur, holding the rope.
Sounds a lot like he was hiding inside the fridge and got stuck. Hiding from the landlord, perhaps?
 

Saucerian

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#8
Thanks for your searching Enola Gaia. I'm sure that when the time is right I'll get the right spelling of Arthur's last name, and the exact dates of the newspaper reports. When a person has a large data base like I do, it takes time to find things that were saved from years ago, but they eventually do turn up.
 

Saucerian

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#9
OK, here is one of the results of a net search I did. Anyone on the board a member of Newspaper Archive]?

Tucson Daily Citizen from Tucson, Arizona on October 1, 1970 · Page 59
https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/24157337/
Oct 1, 1970 - Thursday, October 1, 1970 E N THURSDAY, OCTOBER I, 1970 J. ... LIFE OF FANTASY ENDS 'Superman' Freezes In His Refrigerator HOLLYWOOD (AP) -- Arthur VV. ... Police detectives William Mereier and Terry Pierce said Mandelko ... 24-year-old man committed suicide, the coroner said yesterday.
[PDF]
 

EnolaGaia

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#10
Here's the full text from the Tucson story of October 1, 1970:

LIFE OF FANTASY ENDS
'Superman' Freezes In His Refrigerator

HOLLYWOOD (AP) -- Arthur VV. Mandelko led a strange life in an unpredictable town and died strangely -- in his refrigerator. Police detectives William Mereier and Terry Pierce said Mandelko played Superman at night -- wearing the appropriate costume -- and sometimes posed as a police officer. The diminutive. 24-year-old man committed suicide, the coroner said yesterday. The refrigerator door was tied shut from the inside by a rope. "Mandelko's landlord, who had reported his tenant missing three weeks ago, opened the refrigerator while taking an inventory of the apartment's contents. Inside was Mandelko's frozen corpse. He was fully clothed, sitting with his knees against Ms chin. The coroner estimated the man had been dead for four weeks. Inside the apartment, said the detectives they found a man-sized robot made of cardboard, rags and tape. It had what looked like electronic devices, but none seemed to function. A closet contained a Superman suit and a Los Angeles police officer's uniform. There also was a badge and a toy pistol in a holster. Neighbors said Mandelko's fantasy life began at night, when he played crime fighter. In June officers ordered him to get rid of a motorcycle equipped with a red light and a siren. Peter Marchman, 3(f, his landlord, said: ''Every other night he'd climb on the roofs of the bungalows and jump from roof to roof... always wearing that Superman outfit." Mandelko ceased his roof- jumping, his landlord said, when other residents complained of the thumping sounds. Thereafter, he combined his two identities -- j wearing the Superman outfit' beneath a police uniform. j The detectives said Mandelko, was an orphan born in Chicago, j adopted by William and Dorothy j Mandelko at age 13. Upon their deaths, he inherited some money. He left an estate of nearly $45,000, his lawyer said.
The text is somewhat butchered because it was captured via OCR, but this passage is more coherent that most of the OCR stuff salvaged from newspapers.com.

His name would have been "Arthur W. Mandelko". The 'VV' is a common OCR substitution for a 'W'.
 

EnolaGaia

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#11
One interesting follow-up to this quite bizarre story ...

On October 28, 1970 - circa 4 weeks after Mandelko's body was discovered - this item appeared in the Personal section of the Stanford Daily (Stanford University campus newspaper) on page 6.

(I've tweaked the snapshot and added highlighting.)

Mandelko-StanfordAd-701028-B.jpg
I'm confident this was a prank. 'Person X is alive and well ...' was a common joke / gag motif (what we'd now call a meme) during that era.

SOURCE: https://stanforddailyarchive.com/cg...028-01.1.6&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN-------
 

EnolaGaia

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#12
Another posthumous reference to Mandelko ...

He apparently serves as a character in this early 1970's novel (which the source webpage reviews as being terrible) ...

DEREK MAITLAND
The Alpha Experience
WH Allen, London, 1974
dedication: To Arthur W Mandelko, 1946-1970, Los Angeles

The blurb on the back:

What, in heaven's name, can a nubile babydoll, a queer-bashing street shark, and a schizoid mass-murderer, alternately super-cop and reincarnated Superman, have in common?
All three are patients at the experimental Wendlesham Hospital, somewhere outside an American city. Their disease? Acute aggression. And its antidote? The Alpha Experience. After a brief encounter with psycho-surgery, all three will be reborn: the first completely rational, non-violent beings. Or so it is hoped. And why stop at three...? ...
SOURCE: http://www.trashfiction.co.uk/alpha_experience.html
 

EnolaGaia

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#13
On October 28, 1970 - circa 4 weeks after Mandelko's body was discovered - this item appeared in the Personal section of the Stanford Daily (Stanford University campus newspaper) on page 6. ...
As it turns out, a personal ad with the same motif appeared in the Stanford Daily on at least 2 more occasions preceding the one I cited above. The only differences were the names given for the person(s) with whom Mandelko was allegedly living. One said 'Honey X', and another said 'Honey and Omar'.
 

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#15
EnolaGaia, thanks for all your work in tracking down the references. Sorry I don't still have the film catalog of the dramatization of an Arthur like charactter freezing himself to death.

The catalog was one of what would probably be called "religious" films. Was the film company Insight films?

I had more than one catalog for films of this type, and David Cassidy was in one of the films listed.

I suppose that more net searches might turn up the title of the film, and some details.

It was a 16mm film probably made for showing at church groups, in the mid 1970s.

From the description, it seemed obvious that the film was based on the story of Arthur.
 

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#16
OK, here is one of the results of a net search I did. Anyone on the board a member of Newspaper Archive]?

Tucson Daily Citizen from Tucson, Arizona on October 1, 1970 · Page 59
https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/24157337/
Oct 1, 1970 - Thursday, October 1, 1970 E N THURSDAY, OCTOBER I, 1970 J. ... LIFE OF FANTASY ENDS 'Superman' Freezes In His Refrigerator HOLLYWOOD (AP) -- Arthur VV. ... Police detectives William Mereier and Terry Pierce said Mandelko ... 24-year-old man committed suicide, the coroner said yesterday.
[PDF]
Was it suicide, though? Seems to be the oddest way to deliberately kill oneself. I think it sounds like a dreadful accident.
 

MrRING

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#17
We did have a mention of this in the "real superheroes" thread

Hollywood 'Superman' Freezes Self To Death
By Robert Kistler

Washington Post-Los Angeles Times
News Service

HOLLYWOOD-The Superman of Hollywood is dead.

Police found him Tuesday, sitting in his apartment refrigerator-frozen stiff. He had been there about four weeks. The discovery clears up the disappearance of Arthur W. Mandelko, 24, a quiet, slightly built young man who, since last March, had waged a peculiar fight against crime.

Police now say Mendelko was one of Hollywood's oddest. Quite a distinction in this town. But, until Mandelko committed suicide, few people knew the extent of his strange world.

The story begins at its end: Tuesday afternoon, Peter D. Marchman, manager of the Bungalow Court apartments in which Mandelko lived, entered Mandelko's unit to inventory the contents. Mandelko had been officially evicted as of Setp. 3, but had remained after that with Marchman's permission. Then, Mandelko disappeared. The inventory was needed to Mandelko's possessions could be stored.

In the course of the inventory, Marchman went to the kitchen. He tried to open the refrigerator door, but it wouldn't budge. It has a magnetic seal and should have opened easily.

With the help of a neighbor, Marchman got the door open enough so he could see that a rope was holding it tight. He cut the rope and found Mandelko, fully clothed, sitting with his knees up to his chin. The dead man's hands held the rope, which the had tied to the inside of the refrigerator door.

Both rope and Mandelko were frozen solid.

The police were called and they found:

-A man-sized robot made of metal, cardboard, rags and tape. It was equipped with elaborate electronic devices, none of which seemed to work.

-In the closet were a police officer's uniform, complete with motorcycle helmet and boots, toy badge and bullets, and a cap pistol in a holster.

-A Superman suit. Red cape, high boots, skin-tight blue underwear stuit with the big red "S."

Acquaintances said Mandelko moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in March. During the day, he fiddled with electronic gear, took photographs of people in the neighborhood and subsisted on a diet of Cutty Sark Scotch and Hostess Twinkies.

His real wordl began at night. It was then that he donned his policeman's uniform and patrolled Hollywood streets-sometimes on foot, often on his small motorcycle. The cycle had once been equipped with a red light and siren, but police made him take the emergency gear off. In June, Mandelko told a detective that he maintained his "Police" patrols to protect the sleeping citizens and that his robot and other electronic gadgets were used to sniff out illicit drugs.

When his police equipment failed to quell the criminally inclined, Mandelko emerged from his apartment as Superman. "One of the reasons I had to ask him to leave," said apartment manager marchman, "was that the neighbors were complaining about the Superman bit. He'd climb on the roofs of the bungalows and jump from one to the other in that Superman outfit. People couldn't sleep. Everytime he jumped, he'd land with a 'thump' on the next roof."

Police took no action against Mandelko because he had no history of dangerous conduct. Also, after neighbors complained, he seemed willing to give up his nightly roof jumping. He combined his two identities. Recently, Mandelko, 5-6 and 120 pounds, had been seen leaving his apartment in his police uniform during daytime hours. But he wore the Superman suit underneath his police uniform.

Police began receiving reports from Hollywood pedestrians of a "guy in a Supuerman suit" jumping out at them from telephone booths. Photographs found in the apartment show Mandelko entering a phone booth in police garb, stripping off the uniform and emerging - arms above his head in Superman's "take-off" position.

"He tried and tried to make adult friends," Marchman recalled. "But most of his conversation was about comic book stuff. I don't think he was mentally retarded because there were times when he talked like an adult. He just seemed most happy when he was playing cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers with the neighborhood youngsters."
 

Saucerian

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#18
MrRing, many thanks for the link on the "real superheroes" thread and the post on The Hollywood Superman.

I would really like to see the film dramatization based on Arthur's life and suicide, and do plan to do some net searches to see if I can find the title of the film, and whether it might still be available for viewing.
 

EnolaGaia

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#19
Was it suicide, though? Seems to be the oddest way to deliberately kill oneself. I think it sounds like a dreadful accident.
Mandelko somehow attached a rope to the interior side of the refrigerator door and used it to ensure the door was effectively 'locked' to any outsider.

The most specific description I saw indicated he was holding the rope tightly in his hands. At least one other description gave me the impression the rope had been tied off / to something inside the refrigerator.

I don't see how it could have been an accident.
 
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