Zombie Girl in Custody

When the first zombie movie ever made was presented in Tacoma at the Blue Mouse Theater someone thought it would be a great idea to offer a cash prize to any young woman willing to sit through a midnight showing alone, in the dark. On November 3, 1932 eighteen year old Marjorie Yonk agreed to do it- to view by herself “White Zombie” staring Bela Lugosi as a Haitian voodoo master named Murder Legendre. Before the late showing Marjorie was rushed by siren blaring police car to the medical office of Dr. F.J. Hansen where, after careful examination using a real stethoscope, she was medically found strong enough of heart and mind to

Marjorie Yonk was having her heart examined by Dr. F. J. Hansen

endure the traumatic drama that awaited. (Virtually nothing is known about the doctor or mysteriously whether blood tests of any kind were involved in the examination.) Below she is shown with two mirthless, blank expression Tacoma police officers named Schultz and White (coincidental name ?) just moments before being escorted by flashlight through the inky black theater to her single lonely seat and then abandoned to her unknown fate. What happened next I will leave to your imagination but after the showing a photograph was taken of her leaving the theater obviously a different person than going in.


Marjorie Yonk leaving the Blue Mouse Theatre on the night of  November 3, 1932


White Zombie trailer


Editor’s note: It is known that during the 30’s through the 50’s some movie theaters engaged in publicity stunts and occasional exaggerations however given the recent reconsideration of the presence of zombies there is no reason to doubt the veracity of Ms. Yonk’s experience in Tacoma’s theater district.


Written by TacomaHistory

This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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