A Latter-Day Merlin Whips Up Magic in His Garage for 'The Munsters'
TV Guide 7/23/66
Sitting in the garage of his Santa Monica, Cal., home, surrounded by lathes, drills, motors, books and file cabinets, Ken Strickfaden, 70, insists his electronics special-effects business is now a hobby. "It's a hobby riding me. However, I sometimes ask myself, 'Why am I doing this when the lawn needs mwoing.' My wife also asks that."
"Retired" since 1960, Strickfaden must admit that his business is more than a hobby. Though he is not as active as he used to be (he has been creating electronics magic in Hollywood since the days of silent movies), he still manages to throw off sparks, weird lighting effects and electronic flashes for movies and television more t han occasionally.
At left he is shown working on some gaudy effects for The Munsters. The descriptions are his:
At the far left, the ball-like object on top of the cone is what Strickfaden calls a "brainwasher." It controls a mind the way a "mad scientist controls a zombie." Below this is an "aurora generator cyclotron," the purpose of which is to "create images that look like the Hollywood Bowl with teeth in it."
The flashing circle is a "lightning screen." Each flash lasts 40 millionths of a second. . . . It's used for studying the human aura, the emanation from a human."
The object that might be the skeleton of a coffee urn, with flames inside, is a "plasmatron." "It's been used in a lot of movies as laboratory equipment that creates or gives life." And the spark-issuing "pyrogeyser" in front of Strickfaden is so hot, he says, it "vaporizes auto axles. It doesn't melt 'em; it vaporizes 'em."
Thought a visitor might grow a little suspicious, Strickfaden maintains a dead pan as he expoounds. He goes on to say that while his inventions are put together with salvage materials--from parts of airplanes, cars, electrical gadgets--to him the end product is priceless and invaluable. "After all," he says, "this is my life's blood."
As for criticism, he brooks none. After all, who is to say him nay, no matter how erudite electronically. As he puts it, "I'm way out in the future. So nobody can question me and say something isn't authentic." [Munsterland note: Strickfaden's creations were used extensively in episode 55, "Just Another Pretty Face."]