EDDIE CARMEL was an exceptional human being. Born in 1936, he began suffering from the effects of gigantism (acromegaly) as a teen, and as he grew to immense size the 'Jewish Giant' reluctantly fell into a moderately successful career as a human oddity: stints in the circus and sideshows, random tv appearances, and even some rock and rollin' with a combo called FRANKENSTEIN AND THE BRAIN SURGEONS and a 45 called "Good Monster." (I know, I'm looking, I'm looking...) But this potential cultural footnote lurched into the permanence of collective consciousness not once, but twice via routes tantalizingly polar in qualitative notoriety. First, a few years before his death in 1972 he was captured in a portrait by Diane Arbus, entitled 'Jewish Giant, taken at Home with His Parents in the Bronx, NY' (see below.) Typical of her work, though it captures expressions of heartfelt love on the face of each family member, it is haunting in the unspoken struggles and sadness at which the image mysteriously but knowingly hints. Immortal- frozen forever in one of the best known pieces by one of history's greatest photographers.
And then, there is THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE. Regularly and deservedly mentioned in the top echelon of the most hilariously terrible b-movies ever filmed, Eddie brought the necessary alarming heft into his role as the mutant pinhead 'thing in the closet.' Hidden until the very last minutes of the movie, and covered in cheap yet horrifying makeup, his startling entrance registers an unforgettable shock even to those who have endured the wretchedly sleazy reels which have preceded. The outlandish work has steadily grown in popularity ever since it's hesitant, belated release in 1962, and seems likely to remain discussed whenever schlock is the subject of nodding conversation. Once again, Immortal- but at completely the opposite end of the spectrum.
As such he stands devastatingly in opposition to the 'opportunity only knocks once' paradigm, encouraging proof that even the strangest of us have not only a chance to make our mark, but MULTIPLE chances in an array of instances which can be wildly divergent.
I'll wrap this up with the complete THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE (though i HIGHLY encourage watching the ENTIRE thing--it's truly hilarious from start to finish, and the buildup to Carmel's entrance makes the delirium all the more delicious-- you can cut to his entrance at 1:19) Here's to ya, Eddie- Immortal and inspiring.
Almost forgot, here's a link to some AWESOME behind the scenes stills from the film at my tumblr---
AND! Here is one side of Eddie's 45!!