Anton Szandor LaVey was born April 11, 1930 to Joseph and Augusta LaVey. His father was a liquor salesman. They soon moved to the San Francisco, California area. The name LaVey came from an immigrant ancestor who in passing through Ellis Island was given the name of his place of origin, Levey, France.
Known as Tony, he showed early musical talent, and received musical training. He was always an outsider. He left home after an incident where another youth knifed his face and Tony fought back. He joined circuses and carnivals, learned carny jobs and to play the calliope. He knew Clyde Beatty and Tim McCoy. He played organ for burlesque, and had a short affair with Marilyn Monroe.
He left Los Angeles and returned to San Francisco where he continued as an organist and became a police photographer. He married Carole and started his Magic Circle meetings. He later left Carole for even more beautiful Diane. There is a tape circulating of an episode of the local TV program "The Wonderful World of Brother Buzz", narrated by Pat MacCormick, which centers on LaVey's lion Togare, but also shows the life of his "wonderful normal family" with wife Diane, and daughters Karla (by first wife Carole) and Zeena, as well as many animals, who lived in the soon to be famous Black House.
At that time Anton was a psychic investigator. He and Diane founded the Church of Satan as a partnership in 1966. It was the world's first openly acknowledged Satanic Church. Anton was spokesman and still remains the very image of Satan and Satanism. High Priestess Diane LaVey was equally Satanic but performed the role of good wife and church administrator. Soon followed the first public Satanic wedding, then a first baptism (for their daughter Zeena) and first Satanic funeral. This period of public rituals, about 1967-70, generated intense worldwide publicity and growth in membership.
The movie Satanis (1970) allowed Anton to espouse many of his views, and shows the church at that time. The LaVey's associated with many famous and accomplished people, particularly actors, writers and circus people. Among them were Jayne Mansfield, Sammy Davis Jr., Kenneth Anger, Forrest J Ackerman, Joseph Cotten, Barbara McNair, Elke Sommer, Keenan Wynn, and directors Milo O. Frank Jr. and Robert Fuest.
Anton authored several well-known books on Satanism and witchcraft. Most of what he's told about himself is true as he saw it through his own biases, although he did not tell all. It was NOT a "self-created legend" as charged by critics.
As with many '60s celebrities who were private people there was a burnout factor. Press distortion, harassment from many quarters, including gunshots, vandalism and pestering fans caused him to withdraw from most public activities in his last 20 years. Speak of the Devil (1995) (V) once again gave him a chance to express his views on film. He had a son Xerxes with his last companion and successor to the church leadership, Blanche Barton. He was able to spend some time with his grandson, Zeena's son Stanton LaVey. Many fascinating details of his life are still unknown to the public, and some points have been argued back and forth by those who do not know.
Many biographies have been written about Anton LaVey and some are more accurate than others. However, if one wishes to truly understand who LaVey was and what he stood for you should always go to the source.
Below is a link to a video entitled "Speak of the Devil", a 1995 documentary on LaVey which discusses his life, careers, music, and philosophies. You are also treated to a rare tour of the infamous "Black House" and see LaVey at home with his wife, children and their lion. You are also privileged to a short concert in his music room. I highly recommend this 90 minute movie.
Speak of the Devil
[edit on 3-7-2008 by Shadowflux]