Founder of the Church of Satan. Born Howard Stanton Levey in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Gertrude and Michael Levey, a liquor distributor. His parents soon moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where LaVey grew up. As a youth, he developed an interest in dark literature and gothic legends, shunning sports and other outdoor athletic activity favored by most young boys. Dropping out of high school in his junior year, he worked in a circus and later played the organ for a carnival, local bars, lounges and nightclubs. To avoid the draft during the Korean War, he attended San Francisco City College, where he met and married Carole Lansing, who bore him his first daughter, Karla Maritza LaVey, in 1952. He would claim that during his period as an organist playing at the Lost Weekend cocktail lounge, he would meet many of the city’s prominent people. After meeting Diane Hegarty, he divorced Carole in 1960, and Hegarty moved in with him. Although they never married, Hegarty bore him his second daughter, Zeena Galatea LaVey, in 1964. In 1966, he founded the Church of Satan and became its first High Priest. During the next several years, he would become noticed by the media, attend several television talk shows, perform a satanic funeral for a Navy officer (in 1967), and baptize Zeena for television in 1967 in the name of Satan. He published a book, “The Satanic Bible” (1969), to serve as a guide to his followers. In 1975, the Church of Satan split into two factions, with many of the high ranking members resigning to form the Temple of Set, claiming that LaVey had reorganized the Church of Satan for his own personal exploitation. In 1997, he was stricken by pulmonary edema, and taken to St. Mary’s Catholic Hospital in San Francisco, where he died of a heart attack. His body was cremated, and the ashes divided among his heirs. During his lifetime, LaVey would claim many things about his life, most of which were debunked by his daughter. In 1998, his daughter Zeena and her husband, Nicholas Schreck, claimed that her father deliberately misrepresented a number of facts in his life, and arguing that his mix of philosophy was really a pseudophilosophy. She would also claim that he was not a loving family man as he portrayed in the press, but in reality, would beat his wife and children, abuse the family pets, and would force his female disciples into prostitution as part of his “counseling” to collect their earnings. Among LaVey’s claims that his daughter later debunked were his claim that he originated the Satanic Bible (she claimed it was plagiarized from writings by Ragnar Redbeard, John Dee, Ayn Rand, and Aleister Crowley, and was published only to cash in on the Satanism fad of the late 1960s); that LaVey had affairs with actresses Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield (both denied by friends of the two actresses), and that his church had over 10,000 members (his daughter claimed that the church’s maximum membership was only 300).
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson