Curt Siodmak, the screenwriter who created Universal’s horror franchise “The Wolf Man,” died Sept. 2 of natural causes at his home in Three Rivers, Calif. He was 98.
Siodmak, who wrote or co-wrote more than 70 screenplays between 1928 and 1979, was the oldest working member of the Writers Guild of America West. At the time of his death, Siodmak was working on a sequel to “Metropolis,” the 1926 Fritz Lang silent classic on which he had worked as an extra.
A prolific scribe, Siodmak found his niche during the 1940s scripting horror films for Universal, many of which became cult favorites. In addition to “The Wolf Man,” he wrote “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” (1943), “Son of Dracula” (1943), “I Walked With a Zombie” (1943), “The Climax” (1944), “House of Frankenstein” (1944), and “The Beast With Five Fingers” (1946).
John McLean, executive director of the WGA West said of Siodmak, “He created some of the film classics that shaped the movie industry, he was a unique personality, and he will be sorely missed.”
His cult novel “Donovan’s Brain,” first published in 1943, has never been out of print and later became the basis for three films. Siodmak’s autobiography, “Wolf Man’s Maker: Memoir of a Hollywood Writer,” will be published by Scarecrow Press in November. He wrote a total of eight novels.
In 1997, the U.S. Postal Service honored Siodmak’s “Wolf Man,” which starred Lon Chaney Jr., in its Movie Monster commemorative stamp series.
Siodmak, born in Dresden, Germany on Aug. 10, 1902, began writing at the age of 8 and attended the U. of Zurich, where he earned a doctorate in mathematics. He then worked as a journalist and gained access to the closed set of “Metropolis” while working as an extra.
His film career began in earnest in 1929 when he collaborated with brother Robert and directors Fred Zinneman and Billy Wilder on the German silent film “People on Sunday.” Robert Siodmak eventually became a successful film director in Hollywood.
Curt Siodmak’s first onscreen writing credit was Paramount’s “Her Jungle Love,” starring Dorothy Lamour, in 1938. In 1940, he was hired to work on the screenplay for “The Invisible Man Returns,” with Vincent Price. He later said, “This was a success, and I fell into a groove.” A series of “Invisible Man” pictures followed.
Siodmak is survived by his wife of 75 years, Henrietta; a son; and two granddaughters.