In chapter 20 of MOST EVIL, I suggest that my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel may have obtained his “inspiration” for using the name and character of ZODIAC while working as a young doctor at the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair. He was there on location throughout the filming of Charlie Chan at Treasure Island which originally introduced the world to “Dr. Zodiac.”
In my original draft, I also included what I believe to be a second thoughtprint, linking George Hodel to Zodiac and again directly to the year 1939 and Treasure Island. Though edited out of the chapter in the final book, I here present it for your review as originally written in its rough form:
“SWING MIKADO” & DR. GEORGE HODEL AT SAN FRANCISCO’S TREASURE ISLAND 1939
One of the Treasure Island Fairgrounds biggest summer hits of 1939 was the Federal Theater production of- SWING MIKADO. (Sponsored by President Roosevelt’s WPA)
In an on-line 2003 Graduate Students Symposium article at Tufts University, here is an excerpt from Lucas Dennis, describing that original production of SWING MIKADO:
…included some major changes from the original Mikado. These changes included the re-scoring of five of the original numbers so that they would “swing,” the insertion of some popular dance sequences including “The Truck” and “The Cakewalk,” and the updating of some of the dialogue into the producers’ version of black dialect.”
Separate research shows that arranger, composer, performer, Jester Hairston played the part of Ko-Ko in both the original 1938 Chicago opening and at the Treasure Island production.
In a 1980 interview here is what Hairston had to say:
“So I did the Mikado in swing and played the part of Ko-Ko and directed the show. It was a tremendous hit. We did it at the San Francisco World’s Fair. The Federal Theater had a theater on Treasure Island out there in the water. Mrs. Roosevelt came to our show. She came backstage and shook hands with all of us. That was a thrill. “
We know that Dr. George Hodel was present and doctoring at Treasure Island simultaneous to the afternoon and evening performances of this SWING MIKADO. There can be little doubt that he saw the show. Perhaps several times. Was this performance with its modified lyrics Zodiac’s inspiration which he included in his Gilbert & Sullivan references some thirty-years later? The 1939 Swing Mikado program shows that Ko-Ko sang, “I’ve Got a Little List” in Act 1, followed by “Titwillow” in Act 2.
Here are a few excerpts from Zodiac’s mimicking “lyrics,” (“crooked cues and twisted shoes”) inserted just prior to his moderately accurate quotation of Gilbert’s, “I’ve got a Little List.”
Some I shall tie over ant hills
and watch them scream & twich
and squirm. Others shall have
pine splinters driven under their
nails & then burned. Others shall
be placed in cages & fed salt
beef untill they are gorged then
I shall listen to their pleass
for water and I shall laugh at
them. Others will hang by
their thumbs & burn in the
sun then I will rub them down
with deep heat to warm
them up. Others I shall
skin them alive & let them
run around screaming . And
all billiard players I shall
have them play in a darkend
cell with crooked
cues & Twisted Shoes.
Yes I shall have great
fun in flicting the most
delicious of pain to my
Are they Zodiac originals? Or are they his own vain attempts to plagiarize Mikado-like words, perhaps similar to those he heard performed in the SWING MIKADO at Treasure Island in 1939? Perhaps thirty-years later he reasoned, “If there can be a Black Swing version of Mikado, then why not a Zodiac one? When coincidences pile upon coincidences one is forced to pay attention. I find the fact that BOTH the Dr. Zodiac and Mikado linkage can be traced directly back to the San Francisco World’s Fair at Treasure Island at the same time Dr. George Hodel was there is highly suspicious, and makes for a compelling- THOUGHTPRINT.
Source is from a taping of oral histories preserved by the African American Musica Collections, University of Michigan
 The Swing Mikado, a WPA Federal Theatre Project, originally opened in Chicago in 1938, then moved to New York where it ran for 86 performances. The New York opening was attended by Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, and Mayor LaGuardia. The production was conceived, staged, and directed by Harry Minturn, with swing re-orchestrations of Arthur Sullivan’s music by Warden and starring Maurice Cooper as Nanki-Poo. In 1939, after closing at Treasure Island, the Swing Mikado, by popular demand, continued performances through the fall of that year at San Francisco’s prestigious downtown, Geary Theater, as well as across the Bay in Oakland.
 In comparing Zodiac’s words to the original lyrics, I suspect he is quoting from memory. (Excluding, what I believe are his deliberate misspellings.) The few notable differences appear for the most part to be omissions, which would seem to indicate Zodiac is not copying from a visible text.
1939 SAN FRANCISCO TREASURE ISLAND MIKADO A SMASH HIT
The SWING MIKADO was so successful at Treasure Island that it was performed that summer at the famed, GEARY THEATRE in downtown San Francisco and later that fall across the bay at the Oakland Auditorium.
The hit show was also featured in the March 1939 edition of LIFE MAGAZINE: