Profession(s): Writer, Actor, Teacher. My Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount St. Mary’s College, Emmitsburg, MD (1972) and Master of Liberal Arts degree from John Hopkins University, Baltimore MD (1984) forced me to work three jobs for survival.
Married (October 14, 1972) to Barbara Klein. She tells people I married her because she knew the names and faces of various old film actors. Actually, I married her because she looks like a fairy tale princess with great legs. I’m a very lucky man.
Parents and Sibling: William Charles Mank and Frances Bowen Mank. Wonderful parents. Mom died in 2009 and Dad in 2015; we miss them very much. Brother Randy divides his time between residences in Maryland and the Florida Keys.
Fascinations: Theatre, Film, Books, Circuses, WWII planes, Zoos, Animals, Travel. Most of these took root early in life and have stayed.
Favorite Childhood Book and Film: Disney’s Song of the South. A poster from the film’s original release decorates our home.
Favorite Teaching Memory (having retired in 2005 after 30 years’ service): Teaching Shakespeare. Generally, by the time we got to the fifth act, the students would look up in amazement and say, “Hey! This is starting to get good!”
Theatre Work: Fortunate to have played Prof. Harold Hill in The Music Man, Capitan Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Curly, Will, Jud, and Ali Hakim in various productions of Oklahoma, Emilie de Becque in South Pacific, "Il Stupendo" in Lend Me a Tenor, Rutledge and Lee in various productions of 1776, Captain Hook in Peter Pan, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, Fagin and Bill Sikes in various productions of Oliver! more. Lots of villains! Also, for 36 years, portrayed evil Barnaby in Baltimore Actors Theatre's annual Babes in Toyland (until 2020's production was canceled because of the pandemic). The top hat and cape haven't worn out, nor have I.
Writing work: Fascination with old movies has led to researching them and writing about them, notably the classic horror films. Over 100 interviews, many trips, various archival visits. The research adventures include finding the California mountain lake (and precise spot) where Boris Karloff's Monster tossed "Little Maria" in Frankenstein (1931); finding Karloff's Hollywood Hills home of the era, atop 100 steps (and on a very hot day); having the distinction of Elsa Lanchester teaching me how to hiss like the Bride of Frankenstein; and having Valerie Hobson the heroine of Bride of Frankenstein, confide to me that she wore no underwear under her costume.
Awards: Won the 2019 Rondo Award for Writer of the Year (for the second time). Inducted into the Rondo Award "Monster Kid Hall of Fame" in 2014. Won the 2009 Rondo Awards for Best Book, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration, and for Writer of the Year. Learned the 2009 news while in Los Angeles on business. Went out on my 11th floor hotel balcony, looked out at the lights of the Hollywood Hills, and felt fine.
Favorite Memory for a Rainy Day: One night in Hawaii in 1997 during our 25th anniversary trip. Barbara knows why.
Favorite Song: "The Rose" by Amanda McBroom.
Favorite Book: Trilby by George Du Maurier. I have an 1894 first edition with an engraved cover and the du Maurier illustrations.
Hobbies: Reading, Traveling, Gardening. Raise vegetables most years. Still trying for a giant pumpkin that’ll beat my personal record of 70 lbs.
Current projects: Working on book about 1939's Of Mice and Men.
Ambition: Write more fiction. First novel completed and second almost ready for publication as well -- “Porter Down,” former Lafayette Escadrille pilot turned troubleshooter detective in Golden Age Hollywood. Novels mix fully-researched accounts of milestone films/notorious scandals with Down’s fictional presence. Enormously fun to write.
Philosophy: “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will.” Hamlet, Act V. sc. ii.
Jessica: Born 1977. She has a professional background in Early Childhood education, has two children, Mark and Sarah, and her husband is Eric whom she
married in 2018.
Christopher: Born 1980, had a professional
background in library science, and married
Cori in 2012. Chris died February 23, 2018,
after a brief illness. Nevertheless, he’s with his
Mom and me all the time.