Sad to report that Come Play With Me actor Howard “Vanderhorn”
Nelson has gone to that great Bovington Manor in the sky, he actually died a few years ago, but his passing went unnoticed at the time, and it wasn’t until this week that I managed to get official confirmation of his death. Born in 1934, Howard was a champion bodybuilder in his youth, who entered the film world thanks to a part in chum Harrison Marks’ 1967 film Pattern of Evil, now considered a ‘lost’ film. Thereafter Howard became something of a fixture at Marks’ Studio, and in his films, going on to appear in two different roles in Marks’ 1969 feature film The Nine Ages of Nakedness and numerous 8mm shorts. “Vanderhorn” was a popular character name of Marks (a Baron Von Vanderhorn appears in the 8mm film Aphrodisia and Howard himself had played an Arthur Vanderhorn in Pattern of Evil) and was a name Howard would adopt as a nickname and sometimes acting pseudonym. Howard even appeared in non-sex character roles in Marks’ hardcore short films in the early seventies, he played one of the hippies at the customs’ desk in Die Lollos, Randy Toole’s roadie in Autogramme Stunde, and the photographer in Duty Free. Howard played these roles under a variety of fake wigs and dark glasses, presumably so people wouldn’t know it was him, although his ex-bodybuilder frame always tends to give the game away. Howard also appeared in soft core 8mm films made by Ken Williams’ Mountain Films Company like “Just the Job” and “Intimacy” (on account of starring Howard, and other Marks regulars like Peta Gareth, Williams’ 8mm films are sometimes erroneously written up as Harrison Marks productions)
Outside of the sex film world Howard turned up as a thug who beats up Linda Marlowe in Lindsay Shonteff’s Zapper’s Blade of Vengeance- a menacing turn that was a far cry from the comedic, asexual musclemen Howard usually played. Howard is probably best remembered though as the unfortunate Mr. Benjamin who gets “the full treatment” from Mary Millington in Come Play With Me, and as Harry “Mr. Super Muscle” Hernia, one of Suzanne Danielle’s many objects of desire in Carry on Emmannuelle, from 1978.
Still involved with Harrison Marks after Marks had made the transition from pornographer to spanking magazine publisher, Howard popped up as a spanking milkman in the second issue of Marks’ New Janus magazine in 1982. Latterly, Howard worked for a time at Lovejoy’s Bookshop, and was occasionally spotted around the Charing Cross Area. As a member of Harrison Marks’ quirky inner circle, you get the impression that Howard would have turned out to have been a real character and no doubt a goldmine of saucy movie anecdotes, sadly attempts made by several people to track him down for an interview came to nothing, and by 2007 time had run out. Howard 'Vanderhorn' Nelson was found dead at his home in Lambeth, South London on the 7th of December, 2007. According to the Met “the Coroner was satisfied that there was nothing suspicious about his death and that he had died of natural causes”. The police then made enquiries to trace Howard's family, but to date, have not found any immediate, surviving relatives.
RIP, the man they called “The Horn”.