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Strange As It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler Paperback – Illustrated, January 12, 2016

4.8 out of 5 stars 23 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"Jacobs ... is an exceptional storyteller, and his lively look at the extraordinary career of Gordon Zahler ... is a peculiar page-turner. Zahler, the author's uncle, achieved success on the margins of show business despite a spinal injury ... Jacobs ... craft(s) an imaginative biography about this unusual figure, who carved out a distinct place in post-WWII Hollywood by repurposing the music of his father, Lee Zahler, a prolific film composer. Along the way, readers meet a colorful cast of characters, including animator Walter Lantz, actor Burt Lancaster, and fringe film directors Ed Wood Jr. and Samuel Fuller. Zahler's life was filled with difficulties, but Jacobs refuses to frame his cantankerous uncle as a tragic figure and cleverly uses his story to expound on the larger history of his family. This fast-paced account of a life lived to its fullest is a triumphant tribute ..." - Publishers Weekly

"Everyone loves an underdog--and Gordon Zahler, ... Hollywood Zelig, and eventual music supervisor of Plan 9 from Outer Space, would seem to be the perfect Boy Alger. Zahler ... transmut(ed) the strange horror of physical incapacity into nimble, devilish celluloid miracles ...  Zahler's life was a carnival of mettle, the merging of a Muzak sensibility and an indefatigable, preposterous will to live. In B-movie screenings, as in heaven, the man will endure, unapologetic, undead." - Film Comment

"Never a book has taken you from laughing to crying within the same page. The book unites two talents: the one of Mr. Jacobs and one of Mr Zahler. And it's not a coincidence that both are related ... The style of Mr Jacobs is, as always, very eloquent, passionate and yet entertaining ... sweating of intelligence. For this amazing life, you'll have an amazing book. Read it, you won't be disappointed." - The Culture News

"If you are determined to title your book Strange As It Seems, you damn well better deliver. Chip Jacobs does that and more in a loving, funny and well-written biography of his late uncle, Hollywood musical legend Gordon Zahler." - Bob Andelman @ Mr. Media

" ... Strange as It Seems ... not only details all of facets of Gordon's improbable career, but his private life as well, including marriage to Judy, who comes across as a chain-smoking saint in the narrative, his relationship with various friends, cronies, and underpaid assistants, and his ability to live a life that some of us with all our workable limbs can't match.  A terrific read and one of the best (hopefully movie-inspiring) books of the year. Highly recommended." - In the Balcony

"Here is a remarkable tale of Hollywood history that sheds light on the man who provided the music for several TV cartoon series of the 1960s - not to mention the infamous Ed Wood feature Plan 9 From Outer Space ... Author Chip Jacobs was Gordon Zahler's nephew and he throughly traces his uncle's incredible career - which included providing music to numerous animated series including the King Features TV Popeye's, Filmation's Superman and Larry Harman's Bozo (to name but a few) ... It's a fascinating read. - Cartoon Research

Silver medal, Pacific Rim Book Festival

About the Author

Chip Jacobs is the author of five other books: The Vicodin Thieves: Biopysing L.A.'s Grifters, Gloryhounds and Goliaths; The Ascension of Jerry: Murder, Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman; The People's Republic of Chemicals; Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles (the later two with William J. Kelly); and the privately issued Black Wednesday Boys. Jacobs' reporting has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg View, the Daily News of Los AngelesLA Weekly, among other outlets. Jacobs, the recipient of numerous writing commendations, lives in Southern California. Visit chipjacobs.com to learn more.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1 pounds
  • Paperback : 280 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9781942600244
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1942600244
  • Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Publisher : Rare Bird Books, A Vireo Book; Illustrated Edition (January 12, 2016)
  • ASIN : 1942600240
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 23 ratings
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