There are two kinds of Rondo Awards: The “regular” award in the form of a bust of Rondo Hatton (sculpted by my friend and colleague, Monster Kid and fellow Rondo recipient, the talented Kerry Gammill) that is given each year for outstanding achievement in the various categories set forth by the Classic Horror Film Board.
There is also the Monster Kid Hall of Fame Rondo award which is in the form of a plaque bearing a bas relief sculpture of Rondo Hatton’s face. The latter can only be awarded once; it is presented for the recipient’s body of work.
I won in the latter category. I explained the term “Monster Kid” in yesterday’s Journal entry. Here is the acceptance speech I gave at the awards ceremony:
For me, receiving this Rondo and being voted into the Monster Kid Hall of Fame is almost like getting an Oscar — only cooler!
My mom is a total movie nut. Her favorite film genres are horror movies and musicals. She took me to see every film released in those two categories. My dad loved science fiction films and westerns. We never missed any of those, either.
Nevertheless, I didn’t get to see my first Universal horror film until I was eight years old; my parents were afraid that they’d give me nightmares. When I was eight, however, the Shock Theater film package found its way to one of our local television stations. The first film shown was James Whale‘s Frankenstein.
My parents primed me for weeks prior to the well-advertised screening. Nothing else seemed to matter to me in my life but that forthcoming evening. Once I saw Frankenstein, I was hooked. I needed to know everything there was to know about monsters.
Like so many kids my age, my gateway to that knowledge was Forrest J. Ackerman‘s Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. I saved my allowance, did extra chores for money and bought a subscription.
I read Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker‘s Dracula while I was in elementary school and wrote book reports on both.
Although I drew monsters all of the time as a kid — which directly led to my becoming an artist — I never dreamed that someday I would collaborate with my heroes of the genre, legends like Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury. I would have stared at you in disbelief back then if you had told me that some day those two gentlemen would eventually become my friends as well.
I thought I was fairly alone in my obsession for All Things Monster until I attended my first WonderFest, where I was wholeheartedly welcomed into the Monster Kid community by good and knowledgeable folks like Bob Burns, Donnie Waddell, Dave Conover and Frank Dietz.
Prior to that, it seemed like most of my friends (who were fellow Monster Kids) and I got into the movie biz at about the same time — guys like Don Glut, Rick Baker, Mick Garris and Steve Czerkas — Sons (or nephews) of Forry all. Once inside the movie-making club I joined the ranks of and became friends with fellow Monster Kids like Ron Cobb, Jim Danforth, John Landis, Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, Thomas Jane, Bernie Wrightson and Mark Schultz.
I’m especially touched that this award is named for and looks like Rondo Hatton. My dad knew and worked with Rondo. In between films, Rondo worked at an aircraft parts factory with my dad. I asked my dad about Rondo. He said he was a very quiet, gentle man. My dad also told me Rondo had the biggest hands he’d ever seen on a human being.
In accepting this award, I’d like to dedicate it to all the past, present and future Monster Kids. Grow older — but don’t grow up. And create things that will gleefully scare the hell out of us.
Then JOIN THIS COOL CLUB!
After the ceremony, Cinema Watchdog‘s Tim Lucas (who, along with his wife Donna, received a Monster Kid Hall of Fame award) informed me that I was the first Rondo Award recipient to have a direct link to Rondo Hatton.
My speech was well-received. Frank Dietz gave me a big hug, saying, “Goddammit, Bill — you made me cry!” Well, I broke down as well during my speech, too (which would not have surprised my wife and sons) — as apparently several other attendees did. It was a good, proud, loving and glorious time had by all.
Thanks to everyone who voted for me! And thanks to the folks who continue to make WonderFest the best convention in America.