Tom Shellenberger, Baltimore’s Dracula

Readers, viewers, listeners, I am a Mayor obsessed: With vintage clips from Evening Magazine. I’ve been scouring the Interwebs for Baltimore’s wholesome human interest pieces that ran daily(? I think) from 1977 to 1990. It’s so great! I’ll be uploaded these treats to our Youtube Channel (and subscribe!) semiregularly to our “Baltimore Ephemera” playlist, so enjoy today’s selection.

The year: 1982. The man, Tom Shellenberger. For some reason, he occasionally dressed up like Dracula and walked around Dundalk. He was the founding member of the Maryland Count Dracula Society. Even though the Society was dedicated to horror movie fandom and Tom was not actually a vampire, Evening Magazine had a segment to produce so here’s what we get! Big shout out to Tom’s exquisite Baltimore accent and some sweet sweet vintage Donna Hamilton.

9 thoughts on “Tom Shellenberger, Baltimore’s Dracula

  1. Myself, siblings, and friends were members of the Dracula Society of Maryland. He and his girlfriend moved out of state. If you know what became of them, please let us know. thanx

  2. I just discovered your website. I hope you’re still keeping up with who contacts you. I was a close friend of Thomas Schellenberger. He, unfortunately, passed away in July 2019 on or near my birthday which is the 17th. When he didn’t show up for a meeting at my home I kept
    trying to contact him for about 3 days. I had to contact one of my tenants who lived at the same apartment building I owned where Tom resided. I had him go knock on his door several times that day. We both decided to contact the police. We both had a bad feeling about what happened to him. My tenant told me the last time he talked to him 3 days prior that Tom told him someone was kept coming into the yard during the night and making noises. He was afraid to go outside. He said he hadn’t seen Tom go in or out the gate since that time. I just knew Tom would never have failed to show up at my home unless it was impossible for him to stop by. We told the police what we knew and they tried knocking but received no response. With my permission they knocked the door down. They discovered Tom had passed away. They had people from the coroner’s office come pick him up. It turned out that he passed away from heart failure. I’m not positive if he had a heart attack or not. Tom left all of his writings to me in a will (2 book manuscripts and numerous articles plus a couple of dozen diaries) for me to publish. I was a small press publisher for 20 years. I’m currently in the process of putting it altogether plus my own chapters regarding Tom’s life to publish. He was involved with horror, vampire, and comic fandoms all of his life. He was published by a variety of publications such as Forrest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters, and he wrote for Baker Street Publications, Full Moon Publications, Midnight Zines Cafe Press, etc. He also worked as a reporter back in the 1970s and early 1980s for a few Baltimore weekly newspapers plus he headed a Maryland historical society and sang for the local opera in Baltimore. After he turned 34 he relocated to New Orleans. When he passed in mid-July 2019 he was 68 years old. They weren’t sure exactly what day he passed due to the condition of his body. He could have passed as early as 3 days before they found him. I had spoken to him the Saturday before he passed, and my tenant spoke to him on Monday. However, he didn’t see him on Tuesday or Wednesday. I can’t remember if we were there when the police found him on Wednesday or Thursday late afternoon or early evening. It was still daylight. Thank goodness he didn’t encounter any criminal attempting to break in as we feared. All we can hope is that he didn’t suffer much. I can tell you this much he came to me in a dream twice since then to warn me someone was attempting to break in at the same building. I rushed over there and discovered evidence of the attempted break-ins on both occasions. Since then I sold the building along with 2 other buildings and I relocated out-of-town. That episode plus several other incidents in New Orleans was enough to make me want to leave for good. If you want to keep in touch I’ll be sure to let you know when Tom’s books will be available. It could take several months more to a year. It’s a lot of work to put together. Editing, though, has always be my strong point so you can be sure the books will be well worth the wait. Tom wrote a book about his involvement in various fandoms, about Baltimore and New Orleans. He also wrote a 12 story collection of a vampire series. I’m also publishing many of his articles and excerpts from his diaries. There will be some reprints of his collection of celebrity autographs plus letters he received from some celebrities as well as some photographs with celebrities.

  3. I am sorry to hear about the passing of Tom Shellenberger ! I was a member of the Dracula Society of Maryland when TOM was in charge and I liked him very much. Tom made the meetings fun and interesting for the members. I lost interest in the society after being a member and just left . But I am still a Dracula fan and always will be! Is there currently a Dracula Society still in MARYLAND ?

    1. Hi! Greetings!
      I just discovered that you posted on this website regarding Thomas (Tom) Shellenberger. I’m the one working on his manuscripts trying to get them all organized and published. Quite complicated. It’s taking longer than expected. I hope anyone still interested in Tom’s writings will continue to hang in there. I hope no later than fall 2024 to have some, if not all, of his works available. At some point I’ll put a website up so people can more easily contact me. He was so full of life and looked forward to everything. I just can’t get pass the reality that he’s gone.
      I attended some of Tom’s club meetings back in 1984 in Baltimore. I might have met you there if you attended back then. I had red hair and dressed in black. I met with Gary Svehla and Tony Melanowski there. I read online last year something about Gary experiencing ill health. I think he might have discontinued his wonderful annual publication, Midnight Marquee (it was available online). Tony still lives in the Los Angeles area. He’s still involved with the movie industry. He visited Tom and me in New Orleans back around 1987 or earlier on his way to relocate to Los Angeles. He went to work back then for the horror film director, Roger Corman. I met some other older man named Tom, a woman named Teresa, and a boy about 12 yrs. old with black hair at Tom’s meetings. The boy contacted Tom a couple of times and I think I remember replying. That could have been in the late 1980s and in the 1990s. He could have contacted us much later again like after 2005-2009. I really don’t remember. I lost a ton of memorabilia, correspondence, books, magazines, etc. thanks to a real estate agent from hell. He caused me to lose about $200,000 worth of items. However, that’s a whole other story. Tom would have been really upset about that. Of course, it wouldn’t have happened if Tom had still been around to help me get it moved. That agent did it deliberately for sheer meaness. I never met another person in my entire life like that! Anyway I sold all the properties and left town. The place just had too many memories. Tom had operated an organization there in New Orleans called Dracula And Company, and I had my Friends of Dark Shadows dedicated to the series. I also published lots of horror & mystery zines and such (The Vampire Journal, Realm of the Vampires, The Collinsport Record, The Haunted Journal, Baker Street Gazette, Sleuth Journal, Movies Memories, etc.). Incidentally, I was able to work for Jonathan Frid (he played Barnabas Collins on “Dark Shadows”) while living in New York back in 1985. I helped he put together several huge scrapbooks of ” Dark Shadows” memorabilia to put on display at various “DS” conventions. I had to type a lot of entries for the entire collection, too. I really enjoyed that. I also assisted Jonathan when he visited New Orleans in 1986 for a “DS” convention. I remember when Tom, and I plus some of our members were with Jonathan at a restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans and Jonathan was autographing a stack of his photos to give to visitors at the convention. The waiter in the restaurant asked who was in the photographs. Jonathan replied, ” Oh, just some weirdo”. The young waiter didn’t even know who Jonathan was.
      I came across a horror book series (for Kindle) a few months or so ago about Edgar Allan Poe that takes place in Baltimore. It includes the cemetery setting for Edgar Allan Poe in the churchyard there in Baltimore. I visited that place and took photos. I have one of myself standing next to Poe’s tombstone. I plan to include it in one of Tom’s books that I’ll be publishing. I don’t remember the titles on those Poe horror novels. If I can track down that information I’ll post the titles on this website.
      THANKS for remembering Tom.

      1. I was the boy with black hair you remember! My name was Ronnie then but I changed it to my stage name Daniel Rumanos. Tom dated my older sister Cheryl (RIP) for a time in the early 1980s. Later in the 90s he gave Tom Schickner the rights to revive the society. I was the last person elected president before we put it on hiatus, but have often considered reviving it and have occasionally mentioned the society in interviews I’ve done as a stage magician, actor, and sci-fi writer. I would certainly be willing to help out with your projects concerning Tom and the Dracula Society, so please feel free to contact me at drrumanos@gmail.com if you wish.

  4. I came across photos of Thomas Schellenberger for sale on E bay. Those photos were taken by some journalist from the local New Orleans newspaper, The Times Picayune, back in the mid-1980s. He interviewed him at my parents’ home. I wasn’t there at the time. There was a large selection of “Dark Shadows” photos and a huge poster of Jonathan Frid, autographed by him, hanging on the walls in the background of the photos. I don’t know who put those photos for sale online. I’m assuming it could be the journalist who did the interview or someone connected to him. It looked as it everything was set up for the photos to be taken within the room like some stage set. I don’t ever remember seeing any of that in the house. I recognize some photos and the poster–those were mine. However, nothing else was recognizable. If anyone knows anything about these photos or knows who took them please post a response here.
    I’m still preparing Tom’s writings for publication. If anyone has any good photos of Tom that could be included in his books please respond here. Also, does anyone have clippings of articles he wrote for local newspapers in Baltimore? I have some. I understand that a couple of the newspapers are no longer in operation. That would make it easier for me to reprint them in the books. Otherwise, I need to get permission from any newspapers still in publication. I have been holding off on dealing with that until the books are ready to go to print.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *