Strange as it Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler

Chip Jacobs


The life of Gordon Zahler was simply so miraculous that it might as well have been science fiction. Born into an entertainment family in suburban Los Angeles in the mid-1920s, Zahler was a lovable prankster and class clown, exasperating his parents with his endless teenage feats of derring-do. But Gordon Zahler’s promising career as a public miscreant went pear-shaped one day in 1940 when he and his buddies where fooling around in their high school gym with a spring board. An unsteady jump no the board vaulted Gordon on a deadly trajectory landing him squarely on his neck, severing his spine. He was 14-years old. That’s when the miracles began.

Edited by
Ben Stringfellow

Produced by
Film 14


This amazing book is all heart …Chip Jacobs blends the skills of an investigative journalist, the glitz of Hollywood, and the smooth storytelling of fiction to weave a profile of his larger-than-life uncle that will leave you crying, laughing and gasping in wonder, often on the same page. Bravo!

Denise HamiltonBestselling author of Los Angeles Noir and Savage Garden

Though not about a celebrity or newsmaker, this life being told by Chip Jacobs is an extraordinary one in the history of Hollywood. The raw courage and almost unbelievable stamina of Gordon Zahler—abetted by both love and luck—turns this irresistible biography into a page turner.

William Robert Faithauthor of Bob Hope: A Life In Comedy
Chip Jacobs author headshot

Chip Jacobs

Chip Jacobs is an award-winning Los Angeles-area author and journalist, who finds pretty much everything curious. His books include the biography STRANGE AS IT SEEMS: THE IMPOSSIBLE LIFE OF GORDON ZAHLER; the environmental social histories THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHEMICALS and the international bestselling SMOGTOWN: THE LUNG BURNING HISTORY OF POLLUTION IN LOS ANGELES; the dark humor true crime story THE ASCENSION OF JERRY: MURDER, HITMEN AND THE MAKING OF L.A. MUCKRAKER JERRY SCHNEIDERMAN; the stories collection THE VICODIN THIEVES: BIOPYSING L.A.’S GRIFTERS, GLORYHOUNDS AND GOLIATHS, and; the privately issue BLACK WEDNESDAY BOYS. His reporting has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, L.A. Daily News, CNN, The New York Times, Bloomberg, L.A Weekly, among others. He is currently at work on a historical novel. Visit to learn more.