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Casper 'Cas' Falkenhan, cinematographer, dies

Casper Falkenhan
(Baltimore Sun)

Casper "Cas" Falkenhan, a World War II veteran and cinematographer who developed the magic mirror effect for "The Romper Room" TV series, died Aug. 29 of colon cancer at his son's Rosedale home.

He was 86.

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The son of a stevedore and a homemaker, Mr. Falkenhan was born in Baltimore and raised in Canton. He left city public schools in the seventh grade to help support his family, said his son, Eric R. Falkenhan.

"It was the Depression and he went to work in a printing shop," he said.

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Drafted into the Army during World War II, he was trained as a paratrooper and served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Europe.

On June 5, 1944, he jumped into Normandy the night before the D-Day invasion got under way. While serving with the infantry at the Battle of the Bulge, he was wounded and was decorated with the Purple Heart.

In March 1945, he participated in Operation Varsity, which allowed Allied forces to cross the Rhine and enter Germany.

After being discharged with the rank of sergeant at the war's end, he returned to Baltimore and worked in public relations for Goodwill Industries.

In the early 1950s, he began selling audio-visual equipment and cameras for Stark Films on Howard Street. While working there in the 1950s and 1960s, he made several movies.

"He worked on Olympic films sponsored by the Milk Marketing Association and made a film about the Naval Academy, 'Admirals in the Making,' and training films for Hopkins Hospital," his son said.

He also produced the magic mirror effect for the 1950s TV series "Romper Room," whose host, Nancy Claster, intoned the words that children thrilled to hear: "Romper bomper stomper boo, tell me, tell me, tell me do, magic mirror tell me today, did all my friends have fun at play?"

Mr. Falkenhan also did lighting and technical staging with the Baltimore Actors Theater and the Vagabonds.

In 1971, he established Audio-Visual Service in the 3400 block of Chestnut Ave. in Hampden and operated the business until 2008, when he began suffering from failing health.

He also was an avid collector of records that numbered in the thousands and ranged from Edison cylinders to CDs. He was a movie lover and before it was fashionable, he had converted the basement of his Middle River home into a mini-theater, where he enjoyed showing films.

His wife of nearly 60 years, the former Gloria Gray, died in 2008.

He was a member of Orems United Methodist Church, 1020 Orems Road, Middle River, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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Also surviving are a daughter, Mary Lou Farnsworth of Essex; a brother, Frank Falkenhan of Hampden; a sister, Alice Dunlap of Street; and five grandchildren. Another son, Baltimore County firefighter Mark G. Falkenhan, was killed earlier this year in the line of duty.

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