SAN FRANCISCO (November 7, 1997 7:47 p.m. EST) - Anton Szandor
LaVey, a former lion trainer who became the "Black Pope" of the
Church of Satan, died last week aged 67, his daughter said Friday.
"He said his epitaph should be ... 'I only regret the times that I was too nice,"' Karla LaVey, a self-described Satanic high priestess, told a news conference.
Her father, the goateed occultist who played Satan in Roman Polanksi's 1968 film "Rosemary's Baby" and wrote the "Satanic Bible", died of pulmonary edema brought on by a heart attack.
Family members said LaVey died Wednesday, Oct. 29, but for some reason his death certificate lists him as having died Oct. 31 -- Halloween.
Deepening the mystery, the family said they kept his death secret for a week in order not to distract his followers over their most important holiday season.
"We knew that our members would be very upset by this," said Karla.
In the small, black-painted Victorian house which served as LaVey's home and church headquarters, Karla and her father's longtime companion Blanche Barton, another church high priestess, vowed Thursday to continue with his work.
"We will follow in his footsteps ... to keep the Church of Satan alive and strong," said Karla, seated beside a life-size waxwork figure of her father in the house's "Ritual Chamber", or parlour. "No one will take his place," added Barton.
LaVey worked as a circus lion trainer, crime photographer and professional organist before founding his church in 1966. With a shaven head and trademark black cape, he gained notoriety in 1967 when he performed the very first Satanic wedding.
His followers, said at one time to include include Sammy Davis Jr. and Jayne Mansfield, nicknamed him "the Black Pope."
LaVey's books about Satanism sold more than a half million copies worldwide, and Singapore banned one, "The Devil's Notebook", in 1995, saying it promoted Satanism and denigrated Christianity.
In recent years, LaVey had released several musical recordings like "Satan Takes a Holiday," an album that included such tunes as "Honolulu Baby" and "Answer Me."
Barton said that although LaVey "got away from the cape thing a long time ago" he had further developed his Satanic philosophy and regretted that some people had the wrong idea.
"Satanists would be the first people to say 'Hey, the laws have to be carried out,"' Barton said, adding that the Black Pope had long disdained those "who listen rock'n'roll more than they read the Satanic Bible."
By ANDREW QUINN, Reuters