Irvin "Shorty" Yeaworth, producer and director of the cult-classic 1958 science-fiction movie "The Blob," died in an automobile accident overseas on Monday, July 12.
Yeaworth, 78, was in Jordan working on an entertainment complex, which is slated to open in the beginning of August. His vehicle went off the side of a road between Amman and Petra.
Born in Berlin, Germany, Yeaworth was married to Jean (Bruce) Yeaworth and they resided in Malvern, Pa.
A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, he continued his education with graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania; Wheaton College; and Temple University Teachers College.
Yeaworth produced more than 400 education, entertainment and motivational films, including theatrical features released by Warner Brothers and Universal Pictures. He also produced hundreds of TV programs since his first network series "Song Time," which debuted on ABC-TV in 1949. The list of actors Yeaworth directed include "Blob" star Steve McQueen, Patty Duke, Ethel Waters, Pat Boone, Sebastian Cabot, and Lee Merriwether.
However, the film that's become synonymous with Yeaworth is his most popular production, "The Blob." Filmed during the summer of 1957 by Valley Forge Films (formerly Good News Productions) in Yellow Springs, Pa., and including shots in Phoenixville, "The Blob" has become a true science-fiction movie classic.
Yeaworth made a public appearance at both the 2002 and 2003 BlobFest, meeting and greeting with fans of the film. Ironically, his death came prior to this year's BlobFest.
Mary Foote, executive director for the Association of the Colonial Theatre (ACT) said she'd sent Yeaworth a letter asking if he'd like to make an appearance at this year's event, but hadn't heard back from him.
"I figured he was away out of the states. This was very sad news for me, and I'm very glad to have met him," said Foote. "He was very supportive of the Colonial Theatre and Phoenixville. A lot of people who knew and loved him will miss him dearly. He touched many lives."
Another person affected by Yeaworth's death is Wes Shank, owner and caretaker of the actual "Blob." Shank purchased a five-gallon can containing the actual red-dyed silicone that was used in making the movie from Yeaworth in 1965.
"My wife, Judy, and I are extremely grateful for having known Shorty, and we are proud to call ourselves the caretaker of the Blob," said Shank. " We will continue to share with the public Shorty's talents and his silicone star. Shorty Yeaworth was a dedicated man who spoke gently but made a big impact on many lives in many ways. Our prayers are with his loved ones. Shorty will be sadly missed."
Shank said he first met Yeaworth at Valley Forge Films. "I called and asked to take a tour of the studio," he said. "When I got there, it was 'Shorty' who gave me the tour. My first impression of him was that he was very intimidating. He was a tall gentleman who was extremely articulate."
While keeping in contact over the years, making "Blob" appearances, Shank said the last time he saw Yeaworth was at his residence a month ago.
"He invited Judy and myself out and he was looking for an odd 35-mm reel to take with him to Jordan," he said. "I brought one with me. The next day, he left for Jordan. I thought he'd be around for many, many years. I'm still in shock."
Yeaworth was the director of music at Phoenixville Presbyterian Church from 1954 until 1975. He became director of music at Church Of The Savior in Wayne, Pa., from 1976 until 1988. He was the founder of the Wayne Concert Series and was responsible for producing outstanding concerts, including nationally known performers, for more than 20 years.
Expanding his talents beyond the United States, Yeaworth produced and directed the Emmy Award-winning "Classical Caravan," a public television show of an American orchestra's tour to the Middle East with performances at the Cairo Opera House and in Jordan's Royal Cultural Center. He was also conceptual designer for the National Music Conversatory of the Noor Al Hussein Foundation of Jordan's "The Citadel by Night," a new kind of permanent 'sound and light' experience to be presented at the Citadel in Amman in connection with the Jordan Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
According to close family friend Bill Montgomery, "Shorty" was well known all over the world.
"The world is better for his being here. He was loved locally by his countless friends," said Montgomery. "He was a gifted and creative genius. He had a unique relationship with God and his work showed it. He will be missed."
Surviving, in addition to his wife, are five children, Katherine Whittle, of Los Angeles, Ca., Chris Yeaworth III, of Pottstown, Pa., David Yeaworth, of Honey Brook, Pa., Deborah Tobin, of Kennett Square, Pa., and Jonathan Yeaworth, of Nashville, Tenn.; 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at the Church Of The Savior in Wayne, Pa. on Tuesday, July 27, 2004, beginning at 7 p.m.