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The Long Shadows
He was a denizen of 1920s Hollywood, where he starred in some 50 silent films. A sideshow performer who toured with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for 14 years. A renowned painter, poet and photographer. A sculptor whose works can be found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Natural History in New York. An accomplished dancer, musician, vaudeville entertainer and expert marksman. A key witness for a landmark libel case that set new professional standards for medical research. Jacob Reuben Erlich lived an exceptional life; all the more so given his status as one of the world’s tallest men, towering above his contemporaries at an astonishing 8 foot 6. The Long Shadows is the inspiring story of the man best known as Jack Earle, who would overcome crippling shyness, depression, temporary blindness and the physical challenges of a giant’s frame to earn widespread acclaim for his intelligence, kindness and multi-faceted artistry. Jake’s story is lovingly portrayed by his nephew, author and clinical psychologist Dr. Andrew Erlich, who turned three on the same day his uncle died of kidney failure at age 46. Drawing on ten years of research culled from family lore, newspaper archives, historical documents and the recorded recollections of Earle’s contemporaries, Erlich weaves a fascinating bio-fictional account of a remarkable man and the cast of colorful characters who knew him. These include artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, pint-sized film star Baby Peggy, noted producer and Universal Studios president Carl Laemmle and many, many more. Along the way, we learn a great deal about courage, character, and one man’s unique perspective on a broad sweep of history that encompassed the Great Depression, the immigrant experience in turn-of-the-century Texas, life in the circus, the modern art movement and the domestic anti-Semitism that accompanied the run-up to World War II.
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