'Blob' Director Dies at 78

posted 2004-07-30 15:22:15 by arnoldam

MALVERN, Pa. -- Irvin Shortess "Shorty" Yeaworth Jr., who directed the 1958 cult movie "The Blob" and later made hundreds of films with religious and social messages, died in a car accident in the Middle East. He was 78.

Yeaworth was traveling in Jordan when his vehicle went off the road near Petra on July 19, his wife Jean Bruce Yeaworth said.

"We think he fell asleep," she said.

Yeaworth often struggled with his legacy as director of the camp sci-fi classic "The Blob," much of which was filmed in his backyard in Pennsylvania.

"He was not very proud of it," his wife said.

But fan adoration of the film endured. Last week, the annual "BlobFest" tribute was held in nearby Phoenixville at the Colonial Theatre where a scene was filmed of moviegoers screaming and fleeing the phlegmatic monster.

A resident of the Philadelphia suburb of Malvern, Yeaworth was completing an entertainment complex in Jordan called Jordanian Experience at the Aqaba Gateway, which was set to open next month. His family called the complex near the Red Sea a Disney World-style theme park of Jordanian history.

Yeaworth graduated from Franklin & Marshall College and also studied at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University's School of Theology.

He produced more than 400 education, entertainment and motivational films, including theatrical releases by Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures.

"The Blob" was an experiment for Good News Productions, which later became Valley Forge Films. The company focused on religious fare, hoping to make feature films. The studio complex was sold in the 1970s.

Yeaworth was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. For 25 years, he took tours to the Middle East and aspired to help bridge the gap between Arabs and Israelis.

In addition to his wife of 59 years, he is survived by five children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.