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Zoltar and Bela

I was in a flea market this past weekend, looking for some quality junk, and they had one of the old Zoltar (sometimes Zoltan) Fortuneteller machines. Of course I had to drop in a couple of quarters to get my fortune. (And fortunately it was good news.) Then, staring into Zoltar’s twinkling glass eyes, it hit me: Zoltar bears an uncanny resemblance to Bela Lugosi! Granted it’s the Bela look from WHITE ZOMBIE more than DRACULA, but still! They could certainly pass for brothers, if not the same person. I wonder if this resemblance was accidental or intentional. I couldn’t find any information as to when the Zoltar/Zoltan machine specifically first appeared. Fortuneteller machines date back at least to the beginning of the 20th Century. The “Madame Zita” variety featured a female fortuneteller. One, known simply as “the Gypsy”, possibly the oldest in existence, is owned by the Montana State Historical Commission; it operated for a penny and, though it is no longer functional, is still on display in Virginia City, Montana. But I don’t know if the Zoltar design is that old. If it is, its resemblance to Lugosi is serendipitous.

It bears noting that Zoltar typically “speaks” in a thick Hungarian accent.

TheCheezman • February 9, 2020

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