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Folks Of Interest Ed "Big Daddy" Roth

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by HOTRODPRIMER, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Volumes have been written about the man who was an artist,cartoonist, illustrator, pinstriper and custom car builder and the creator of the rat fink.

    I won't intend for the post to go in depth with is builds or accomplishments images of him and the cars he built, I saw this photo and it is one I don't ever recall seeing in the past. HRP

  2. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,782

    from Colorado

    I met Ed in the late fifties when he was doing shirts at car shows. However, I find his accomplishments as an instructor at University of Utah (I think that’s correct) in his later life more interesting. If anybody has info on that stage of his life, please post.
  3. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 5,107


  4. Ed's fourth wife, Ilene, lived in Utah, where Ed Roth spent the final years of his life. Roth shaved off his goatee and was heavily involved in social work through his later day saint's church.

    In 1999 he lectured at Brigham Young University's Museum of Arts he
    shared some lessons he had learned in life: "Expect Criticism; if you can't do it get help; you don't need fancy tools or a fancy garage; and if you fulfill your duty you will be blessed in what you do.


  5. 30dodge
    Joined: Jan 3, 2007
    Posts: 464

    from Pahrump nv

    It was Snow Collage in Ephriam Utah. There is a painting of his in one of the side rooms. This is a sign from outside of 001.JPG the building
  6. RICK R 44
    Joined: Dec 13, 2009
    Posts: 457

    RICK R 44

    Seem to remember reading somewhere that his one off fibreglass bodies were mocked up with some concoction containing vermiculite and then the glass mat and resin were laid over that. Does anybody have any info on that process?
  7. Vermiculite mixed with clay or some type of glue would probably be for lightweight reasons. These days, styrofoam pellets (as in beanbags) would probably be used that way. Just a guess, I don't know any facts. ;)
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  8. Tom davison
    Joined: Mar 15, 2008
    Posts: 5,437

    Tom davison
    from Phoenix AZ

    Danny, the photo is from a Life Magazine piece they did on Ed in, I believe, fall of '64. I remember that it was on the news stands the same time as Farhner's Denver car show where Ray featured Roth and the newly completed Surfite.

    Ray, Ed and a group of us went out for Dinner after the show. We all ordered. When it was Ed's turn, he said, "Bring me six cokes now, then a hot fudge sundae, and after that, Spaghetti". He drank the cokes all at once, one right after the other while we were having our salad. I told the waitress to look for his story in that week's Life (as if that might explain it!).
  9. Thank you Tom, I would love to see the article. HRP
    chryslerfan55 and dana barlow like this.
  10. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,608

    Rusty O'Toole

    Roth used to sculpt a full size model of a body in plaster. First he would make an armature out of wooden boards, cardboard, chicken wire, whatever. To make the plaster lighter and easier to work he mixed in vermiculite insulation. When the plaster was hard he could sculpt it with a Surform file and sandpaper. Then stand back and eyeball it, if it doesn't swing cut off the bad part with a keyhole saw and start over. Stick coat hanger wire into the old part to have something to stick the new plaster onto.

    He would start with big 'spitwads' of plaster soaked newspaper to build up a rough shape then finish off with the plaster vermiculite mix.

    When he had a good looking body shaped, it was time to add the fibreglass. Fibreglass cloth or mat soaked in resin, with the excess resin squeegeed out with a plastic applicator. The fibreglass would be built up layer by layer until it was from 1/4" to 1/2" thick depending how strong it needed to be.

    When the fibreglass was hard it was time to turn the body over and tear out the matrix, the wood and cardboard framing, the plaster, everything. Leaving the fibreglass body.

    In some spots it was too hard to get the plaster out so he just left it. Like the pods sticking up on the sides of the Road Agent.

    The final step was to sand smooth, and smooth out rough spots and low spots with Bondo, then get ready to primer and paint in the usual way.

    That was his basic method of making a fibreglass body. Today you could get the same result easier using urethane insulating foam instead of plaster.
  11. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,608

    Rusty O'Toole

    By the way.... did anyone else notice the negative was reversed in the top photo?
    mad mikey and HOTRODPRIMER like this.
  12. Roger O'Dell
    Joined: Jan 21, 2008
    Posts: 1,143

    Roger O'Dell

    There will never be another Ed , And like his sons
    czuch, RDR, 40two and 1 other person like this.
  13. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,400


    I met Ed at the swap meet at Englishtown back in the 1990's. He was selling stuff out of the back of a Datsun pickup, very quiet guy, not what I'd expected. I bought some decals from him, never asked for an autograph, kind of wish I had.

  14. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 2,817

    rusty valley

    just days ago the thread about moriarity and his build pretty much show the build technique.
  15. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    from SW Wyoming

    While watching his interview of Von Dutch, I too was struck by his low key style. Not what I was expecting at all.
  16. flatheadgary
    Joined: Jul 17, 2007
    Posts: 877

    from boron,ca

    just a side note on making molds and bodies. spritz by fritz has a 2 set dvd to show how to do this. extremely informative.
    mad mikey and HOTRODPRIMER like this.
  17. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 27,417

    Jalopy Joker

    saw Ed Roth at his last Rat Fink Reunion, Dec 2000, held at the Mooneyes shop. The show was shut down early because of idiots doing burn outs,etc that brought the Cops. He had planned an auction to raise funds for his main charity. He ended up sitting on a curb, with Larry Watson by his side, crying. He was a truly good guy.
    Andy, dana barlow, czuch and 5 others like this.
  18. I have a poster from that show that when I bought it from the Mooneyes owners they told me it was his last show. I never New the back story. I’m sorry it had a sad ending due to selfish actions of others. Hobo Jim
    Joe Travers, loudbang, Hombre and 3 others like this.
  19. exterminator
    Joined: Apr 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,626


    I ran into Ed Roth back in 1976 or 77 at a charity car show (toys for tots) in Rialto, Ca. I asked him about pin stripeing my nomad I had at the time and he said he would. He seemed to be a very nice guy. I sadly never followed through with it and sold the car not to long after. Met the Wolfman at the same show and had him sign my American Graffity(wrong spelling) 8 track tape. Good show!
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    loudbang, mad mikey and HOTRODPRIMER like this.
  20. Colin HD
    Joined: Sep 14, 2008
    Posts: 274

    Colin HD

    I met in 1983, at Knotts Berry Farm in Ca, they had an old wester Jail mock-up, where with a couple of mirrors, one of the 'dummy' prisoners would 'talk' to you.
    This guy started asking me questions about my MOON t-shirt.
    We got talking and turns out to be Ed, standing in for a guys lunchbreak.
    We met up and had a coffee and he invited my backstage.
    Met up with him again a couple of times after.

    Massive influence on me.
    I have a massive collection of 'stuff' including all his business cards: Firestone to Utah.
    Have started a Show Car build to him as a tribute, made the propped way - Plaster & vermiculite!!
    pitman, VANDENPLAS, GuyW and 11 others like this.
  21. jim snow
    Joined: Feb 16, 2007
    Posts: 1,325

    jim snow

    I met Ed a couple of times when he was touring thru New England in to 90's. Very soft spoken and humble. Sure miss him. Snowman
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,279


    Had the pleasure of his company at Detroit Autorama on 2 occasions. The second time he autographed my Rat Fink Zippo...with a scriber;)
    20190211_084401.jpg 20190211_084737.jpg
  23. The thing about Roth that no one on the HAMB will want to admit was that he was not afraid o use fiberglass and mud to make a car the way he wanted it to look.

    He really liked little kids believe it or not. perhaps that was what his cartoons were all about apart from being a way to make a living.

    No here is a tid bit for ya. It kind of crosses over between my other life off the HAMB. He often hired people to help with his poster business, it was two fold. he had an extra pair of hands and it helped a starving artist get a start. For a while in the later '60s David Mann worked for (or with) Roth painting and drawing. The posters may be a little too edgy for the average HAMBer but they were a start for Mann and a big help to Mr Roth's business.

    Here is a milder collaboration

  24. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,782

    from Colorado

    Those were centerfolds in EASY RIDERS magazine. Ed also had a tattoo of his unique signature on his bicep.
    loudbang, mad mikey and HOTRODPRIMER like this.
  25. Other interesting photos.


    Ed's 406 FE powered 55 Chevy




    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    pitman, catdad49, edcodesign and 10 others like this.
  26. rothcrazypainter.jpg

    Roth built Most of his Masterpieces along with producing his T-shirts at Roth Studios, his very Low-Techy Mad Scientist’s Laboratory on Slauson Avenue in Maywood, an L.A. suburb. Revell American produced model car kits that featured the “Beatnik Bandit” and “Road Agent”. Other model kits included “Rat Fink” and the gang, a group of hot rodding monsters. During 1963 Revell paid Ed “Big Daddy” Roth a one cent royalty for each model sold. In 1963 Ed brought in $32,000 that year in royalties, that’s a lot of model kits…
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  27. Great thread . Mr. Roth was truly one of a kind. Talent and a imagination that was very unique .
  28. flyin-t
    Joined: Dec 29, 2004
    Posts: 1,375


    I remember reading an interview with him about this very process. He'd do this on the intended chassis and when he was finished making the body as you can imagine the running gear, frame, everything was covered with plaster, dust, resin and so on. Not wanting to clean it he'd load it on the trailer, take it to the chrome shop and then them to chrome everything leaving the dirty work to them.

    We use to go see him at Knotts in his little sign shop there.

    Our pinstriper that put the logo and CF numbers on our finished boats, Kim Dedic, was host to the Rat Fink reunion for many years. It was a small deal back then in his shop before it morphed into the Mooneyes thing.
    pitman, catdad49, dana barlow and 4 others like this.
  29. BadgeZ28
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 1,112

    from Oregon

    A friend took me to his garage in L.A. back in February 1963. It was a one bay garage. We walked through to a fenced in back lot and there were the carcuses of past attempts or failed projects. Ed was not there. Just dirty Dug if I remember correctly.
  30. czuch
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 2,688

    from vail az

    In my early teens we'd go hang outside his shop. Keeping respectfully quiet and not in the way.
    One day he was striping a green car and I had a brand new green Peugeot ten speed.
    He said to bring it in and he ran out the brush layin some lines on my new bike.
    I could have popped right there.
    My Dad wanted to kick him around the block.
    I explained how cool I thought it was, and, ITS THE RAT FINK GUY.
    Dad thought it was OK then.

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