Van Sloan on Dracula—"It was gosh awful thirty five years ago—what it must be like today! I think nothing dates faster than a motion picture"
American character actor (1882-1964) best remembered for his roles in the Universal Studios horror films such as Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and The Mummy (1932). Rare ALS from Edward Van Sloan signed “Van,” six pages, 8.5 x 11, February 3, 1958. Lengthy handwritten letter addressed to his nephew Bill, which begins by discussing the recipient’s work in education, segues into his disdain for retirement, and talks briefly of the Civil War, “To me that period is still the most interesting of our history.” He then touches upon a variety of notable figures, to wit: Dwight D. Eisenhower: “I admire the man and I think he served one great purpose—International prestige for the U.S. But having said that I think all’s been said. He no doubt is an able Administrator but seems to lack the qualities of a dynamic Executive…But I don’t worry too much about that, for as Lincoln said no man in the Presidency can in four years do irreparable damage to the country.” Leonard Bernstein as conductor of the Philharmonic: “I don’t think he’s a Bruno Walter, and has lots of the weaknesses or quirks of a young conductor, but to me he has the one great virtue—he’s interesting…I think as he grows older he’ll ‘mellow’ as they say…Meanwhile I think he’s an improvement over Mitropoulos…who to me has the unforgivable vice of being deadly dull.” On Beethoven: “In my not so humble opinion Beethoven couldn’t write for the Human Voice—he insisted on treating it as an orchestra and made demands on it the vocal chores simply couldn’t supply. I always think of a Toscanini performance of Beethoven's ‘Missa Solemnis,” and boy was that somethin’—a Tennessee hogcalling contest was a plain chant by comparison. Do I shock you?…I imagine Herr Beethoven will weather my presumption, and the ‘Ninth’ will continue to give esthetic pleasure to millions unborn.” After reflecting on nearby city work, Van Sloan remarks: “That reminds me of your failure to see the ‘Dracula’ film on T.V. How lucky you were. It was gosh awful thirty five years ago—what it must be like today! I think nothing dates faster than a motion picture.” In fine condition. Accompanied by the original hand-addressed mailing envelope, several letters from other members of Van Sloan’s family (including his wife Myra, his niece Elizabeth, and his sister Katherine, who transcribes a letter from her brother to his nephew and niece, dated February 23, 1964, not long before Van Sloan’s passing on March 6th), a glossy photo of the actor, a copy of his death certificate, and an urn label from the Olivet Memorial Park, stating: “This receptacle contains the cremated remains of Edward Paul Van Sloan, Date cremated March 9, 1964.”