July 26, 2012
“A stir was caused when the Kiyogle mail train came to a standstill at the South Brisbane Station yesterday, and a man more than 7ft. in height, with his face hideously made up, stepped on to the platform to face a battery of cameras.”
So read a short notice under the title “Giant’s Arrival” in the Brisbane Courier of June 9, 1932. Frankenstein’s Monster had come to town.
The sullen, lanky gentleman in the clunky Monster boots was one Lance Robartson, “6ft. 11in. in his socks”, self-proclaimed Tallest Man in Australia. Reporters dwelled on Mr. Robartson’s difficulties in securing sleeping accommodations, train berths and hotel beds invariably too small and uncomfortable.
Robartson would appear at the posh Carlton Cabaret — “FRANKENSTEIN will be present… A Monster” — on the night before the film’s premiere. Ads promised an “Evening of melody, song, dancing and laughter”, but there is no record of how The Monster worked the room. Did he dance or sing? Was there a skit?
The Courier reported, simply, that “An enjoyable time was held at the Carlton Cabaret on Thursday evening”. A long list of guests was published, local bigwigs no doubt, treated to a dinner party by the Tivoli Theater management, and a note saying that Mr. Robartson would soon entrain for Melbourne. Beyond that, all traces of Mr. Robartson or his stint as a Frankenstein stand-in are lost. As of this writing, all we have are some newspaper ads and an old grainy photograph.
Next up in this series: Frankenstein Opens!