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Mark Chorvinsky (1954 -2005)
Too brief a life
by Loren Coleman

 
Mark Chorvinsky was born in Philadelphia, on March 4, 1954. A magician from the age of seven, Chorvinsky acquired an interest in mysteries, and a desire to explain them, in his childhood. As an adult, Chorvinsky became a filmmaker and bookstore owner.

Chorvinsky's film productions were independent and usually not feature length. His short motion picture Strange Tangents was screened at the American Film Institute, the Library of Congress and film festivals at Cannes, Berlin, and Los Angeles. "It's about a young sorceress who tries to save her dying master with the help of her friend, a 3-foot-tall talking salamander," Chorvinsky told a reporter in October 1989. (Later, he would create short video documentaries on his debunking investigations, such as Strange World, in the mid-1990s.)

In the early 1980s, Chorvinsky devoted endless hours categorizing the data collection of the International Fortean Organization, while running his commercial bookstore, Dream Wizards, in suburban Rockville, Maryland. Displeased with the administration of INFO, Chorvinsky broke with the group, then founded and became the editor of Strange Magazine in 1987. His magazine reflected Chorvinsky's journey in Fortean investigations, at first publishing detailed overview articles on phenomena, but then slowly moving to more skeptical and debunking articles on cryptozoological and unexplained subjects, as well as the occasional sympathetic pieces.

Chorvinsky was one of the first to discuss the possible role of Washington state construction magnate Ray Wallace in the seminal hominological events in 1958, when Jerry Crew found the now-famous "first" Bigfoot prints -- or, at least, the first to be labeled as such. Chorvinsky, an outspoken skeptic of the 1967 Roger Patterson-Bob Gimlin Bigfoot film footage, suspected that the clip was a hoax. In columns in Fate Magazine and in essays in Strange Magazine, Chorvinsky tied his theories especially to the Hollywood special-effects award winner John Chambers (although Chambers denied his role to investigator Bobbie Short). Another favorite debunking focus of Chorvinsky's was the Loch Ness and Owlman work of fellow magician, Englishman Doc Shiels. Chorvinsky carried on decades-long debates on these topics with his critics.

Chorvinsky had a light side, and it appeared most often when he was able to share his passion for the magic of the movies as seen in cryptozoological topics. He contributed an appendix to my book, Tom Slick and the Search for Yeti (1989), on the role of Abominable Snowmen in the cinema, and he often described how he enjoyed writing that essay. In his later years, Chorvinsky seemed to return, as with the piece he wrote on the truth behind The Exorcist, to reflective examinations that overlapped his deep interests in film and Fortean topics.

One of Mark Chorvinsky's favorite Charles Fort quotations was from New Lands: "There is not a physicist in the world who can perceive when a parlor magician palms off playing-cards."

On Saturday, July 16, 2005, Mark E. Chorvinsky of Rockville, Maryland (the son of Irma and Milton Chorvinsky), passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was a devoted father and family man. He left behind his wife Laurel Chiat, his son David S. Chorvinsky, and brother Ted and sister Pamela. Mark Chorvinsky was a fellow of a tight-knit group of Forteans in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including his good friends Doug Chapman and Mark Opsasnick. Before he fell ill, Chorvinsky maintained an extensive network of international colleagues via email contact and his publishing efforts.

July 28, 2005
 

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