Remembering Wes Shank

Wes Shank died August 13 at the age of 72.

By Steve Vertlieb:  We were lifelong friends, survivors, and part of a proud, if vanishing brotherhood of adoring movie fans. Dick Klemensen (crusading editor and publisher of Little Shoppe of Horrors Magazine) is pictured on the far left. I’m next to Dick. Next to me is the “Citizen Kane” of monster magazine publishing, Gary Svehla (founder and publisher of Midnight Marquee Press, and creator of the beloved “Fanex” film conventions in Baltimore, MD). On the far right is Walter (Wes) Shank.

Dick Klemensen, Steve Vertlieb, Gary Svehla, and Wes Shank.

I met Wes fifty-three years ago at Forry Ackerman’s very first “Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine” convention in New York City in September, 1965. Wes was a renowned film, and film memorabilia collector, as well as the owner and “curator” of “The Blob.”

When I lost my job in television many decades ago, Wes offered me a job working with him at his film lab in Rosemont, Pa. He saved me when I most needed a helping hand.

Wes and I shared a history…a history of both laughter and tears. We didn’t always see eye to eye but, in the final analysis, he was my friend. He was a gentle soul, and loving husband of Judy Shank, and father to David Shank. I just received the terrible news that Wes passed away yesterday. I am in shock and denial. I cannot fathom the shocking reality of his passing. Wes made his mark in the world of fandom, and was a legendary, beloved figure to all who knew him.

Wes was a gentle soul, and avid film memorabilia collector, known largely for being the owner and keeper of “The Blob.” Pennsylvania’s Blob Fest was always enlivened by Wes’s appearance in the company of his famed gelatinous friend. He was also responsible for locating the infamous censored scenes from the original King Kong, which were then loving restored by Janus Films, and incorporated back into all modern prints of the film. Wes was simply a good guy, and a loving family man. My heart goes out to his wife, Judy, and his son, David. May God Bless his gentle soul.

I cannot imagine a world without Wes Shank. May you rest in peace, old friend. I shall always love you.

Steve Vertlieb, left. Wes Shank, right.

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5 thoughts on “Remembering Wes Shank

  1. Dear Steve,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful tribute on Wes. He was a fantastic person who so kind and loving to every body. I’m still in shock. It doesn’t seem possible that he’s gone. I will love and miss him always. I’m at the age now when you start losing many friends. I’m sure that I’ll get hit soon as my health is so bad. A friend of mine told me years ago that some day I would feel older than dirt. Well I’ve reached it now. Hopefully I’ll meet up with Wes again. rest in peace my dear friend.
    Love forever, Old Bob

  2. In June, Wes was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS). His talk covered the history of the movie, including how Steve(n) McQueen was cast in the starring role, and he showed pictures of the studio and sets for the movie; sadly most of those are gone now. The highlight of his talk was the can he brought that held a piece of the original Blob.

    May he rest in peace.

  3. Hello All,
    Wes was a dear friend of mine. We met while he was working at Raymour and Flanagan. He was one of the kindest people I know. He had a voice that was only matched by his strong yet gentle character. He cared for his wife and enjoyed his retirement as it meant more time for him to spend with Judy. I found out today that he passed away. I’m so sad that I did not have the chance to say goodbye. Rest In Peace, WES! You will never be forgotten.

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