Silent movies, early Hollywood, and a very, very tall man

Written by

Somehow, silent films are a recurring theme in my world these days–fitting, since I live up the street from the Mack Sennet studios downtown, now recast as a storage facility supported by a member of my household and other acquisitive sorts in the area.

First, I happened on the amazing historian John Bengston’s standing-room-only presentation at the LA Central Library—in which he isolates frames from silent films and maps them against archival and current photographs of downtown Los Angeles. If you’re into history or movies or both, you’ve got to check out his books.

Then there’s this new book called The Long Shadows, about a silent film era star (and circus act) named Jake Ehrlich who was notable for his height: 8 foot 6. As you might imagine, life wasn’t easy for someone so tall, and his nephew, psychologist Dr. Andrew Ehrlich, spent a decade researching uncle Jake’s story so he could immortalize his struggles and achievements.

“There were always stories, tales, and myths about my uncle’s life,” Dr. Ehrlich told me. Listen to my conversation with him below: