ED "BIG DADDY" ROTH March 4, 1932 April 4, 2001
Ed Roth past away on Wednesday April 4, 2001, he died at his home in Manti Utah from an apparent heart attack while working on his latest project. He was and still is a Great Inspiration to us all, as colorful a character as the little rat he created, he will be Greatly Missed by all.
These pages are a tribute to him and his work, for all to enjoy, he was a Huge Influence in my life since childhood. I feel very fortunate to have met him and spent time with him, I would like to share my story about Big Daddy with you along with pictures and articles from my old car magazine collection and Rat Fink model and toy collection....enjoy.
THANKS "BIG DADDY"
I first met Big Daddy in the summer of 92 while on vacation with my wife in California, we were in LA for the weekend of the LA Roadster show, and what a show it was a huge swap meet and miles of show cars what more could a car nut ask for?.
Well little did I know that in the venders area I would meet some of the people that I have been reading about in car magazines since I was a kid, growing up in New York as a kid California was as far away as another planet, it was a real treat just to be there with the Kustom car hero's that I read about for years.
Then to meet Ed Roth at the show a man Larger then life (he didn't get the name Big Daddy fer nuthin) was the best part, he was more then happy to talk to ya and tell us what new project he was working on signing autographs and taking pictures, it was a Great trip.
Big Daddy at the LA Roadster show 92
The second time I met Ed was right here in New York at the Long Island custom car show in 96, he had a big vending both at the back of the show, I wanted to stop by say Hi and pick up sum Rat Fink stuff.
While I was talking with Big Daddy I told him of some resin casting that I was working on he was interested in seeing them and asked if I would bring one back to the show tomorrow for him to see "YA" KOOL I said I'll see ya tomorrow.
The next day couldn't come soon enough all the while I was thinking wouldn't it be great if I could get the chance to work on a project with Big Daddy himself, some kind of Far out car that he was working on or something like that, but how could I? me in New York and Big Daddy in Utah.
Well it was Kool enough just to have him look at my work, so that afternoon when the show opened I was there with my resin castings. Big Daddy liked them, he said what are you doing today? would you like to work on a project I have in mind?, well I must have stood there in silence for a while with a stupid look on my face my brain was saying HELLO did you here right, Ed Big Daddy Roth just asked you to work on a project with him, (like he had to ask), "YA" OK, KOOL. Ed said we need about 2 or 3 pounds of stiff clay, so I ran right out and got some, we spent the rest of the day molding the clay and talking, I felt bad because I had asked him every question I could think of in the past 30 years, I felt like I was interviewing him, Big Daddy just laughed.
After awhile the clay took shape a big flying eyeball with ooze coming off of it, he would work on it then say here you work with it while I stretch and sign some autographs. we worked on the eyeball the rest of the day, all the while I was thinking how great it was to be there and working on this project with Ed Roth, it was getting late and the sculpture was almost done Big Daddy said now take it home with you finish it make a mold and send me one, a week later it was on it's way to Utah.
Big Daddy called when he received the sculpture he was impressed with it, don't change a thing, now start on a shifter knob, that's when he gave me my name "Eyeball John" (sort of like being knighted) and things have not been the same since, Thanks "BIG DADDY".
Speciel Thanks to Moldy Marvin and Big Daddy for having me as one of there featured artist on there web site, Moldy has done a Great job with the web site of keeping the names "ED ROTH" and "Rat Fink" around for generations to come, It is a Honor to be part of it.
Big Daddy and I at the Long Island Custom car show in 96, and the finished Flying Eyeball sculpture that we worked on together
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was born in Beverly Hills on March 4, 1932. He grew up in a German speaking household with a younger brother, Gordon. In school Ed learned to speak English and he liked to draw. Ed was able to do his homework and keep up with the rest of the class while he drew pictures of airplanes, hot rods and monsters. His father Henry was very strict with the brothers and kept the two out of trouble by supplying them with tools and a workshop. Ed's dad was a German cabinet maker and it was in the workshop where Ed learned how to build crazy stuff out of wood.
Ed purchased his first car in 1946 shortly after WW II ended. It was a 1933 Ford Coupe. He graduated high school in 1949, and went on to college majoring in engineering so he could advance his knowledge in automotive design. He started with his '33 Ford. Ed did pretty good in college but got bored with his engineering and physics classes cuz they just didn't have anything to do with cars. ring so he could advance his kno
Ed joined the Air Force in 1951 and went to bombsight school in Denver where he learned how to make maps. He became an expert barber on the side. He was stationed in Africa for awhile and then transferred to South Carolina for 4 years before coming home. Ed was honorably discharged in 1955.
By that time he owned several vehicles, he was married and had 5 children, all boys. Ed began working at Sears in the Display Department and started pin striping cars after work.
As his family grew so did the bills. In 1958 Ed went to work full time with "The Baron" and his grandson Kelly. Using junkyard parts and a newly developed product called fiberglass, Ed created automobiles in his garage. Ed's first car was called the "Little Jewel" and then shortly after that came the "Outlaw", which showed the world that anyone could design and build a car without being some kind of certified automotive engineer. All you really needed was imagination, some motor head know-how, a lot of elbow grease and gumption.
Presto! His garage became his studio where other creations came into light which include the "Beatnik Bandit", "Mysterion", "Rotar" and many others.
Ed's most popular monster was Rat Fink. Rat Fink started as a drawing that Ed first drew on a napkin while eating at a diner, later he transferred the drawing onto his refrigerator door. "BiG Daddy" was a genius at designing cars but it was Rat Fink that brought him fame. By 1963, teenagers across America were buying Rat Fink model kits and mass-produced Rat Fink T-shirts.
When Ed got so busy that his garage couldn't handle the work, he moved his operation into a new shop in Maywood, California. Ed had to hire several employees to help him build and produce more custom car and t-shirts. 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. Here is a very interesting Note: During 1963 Revell paid Ed a one cent royalty for each model sold. Ed brought in $ 32,000 that year in royalties, now figure out the math, that's how popular Ed's creations were.
Rat Fink and the gang driving their hot rods have become rock-art icons. Originally they were adopted by surf musicians and today the gang can be found everywhere. A number of punk and alternative bands have used Roth's images on LP's and CD's such as: Birthday Party "An Australian Band" with Junk Yard cover 1981 and current releases by the Voodoo Glow Skulls Cover Artist "Marco Almera". There is even a band called Rat Fink.
The following was an editorial on ED "Big Daddy" Roth. It is a conglomeration of information that was taken from Ratfink.org, and used with the permission of Moldy Marvin.d Roth's artwork can be found throughout the late 80's and mid 90's in
Rat Fink™ name and device and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and "Moldy Marvin" are trademarks of Ed Roth © 1999/2000 Rat Fink device © Ed Roth 1986 (Ed "Big Daddy" Roth,Rat Fink,Beatnik Bandit,Road Agent,Outlaw, Mysterion,Tweedy Pie,Stealth 2000, Surfite, Wild Child,Angel Fink, Robin Hood Fink, Mothers Worry, & Dragnut are all trademarks of Ed Roth (C) '99/2000.)
Here are some old magazine articles and pictures of Big Daddy, I will be adding more as I get a chance to scan them. enjoy.
One of my favorite cars the "Beatnik Bandit" Car Craft May 1961
Great Interview with Big Daddy and George Barris Rod and Custom May/June 1962
Big Daddy with Orbitron Car Craft 1964
Big Daddy Swinging Jazz Man, from jazz to fiberglazz Rod and Custom 1964
Big Daddy and the Mysterion, Rod and Custom, September 1963