Robert Feder has a column in the Sun-Times today about a new book that goes behind-the-scenes of Chicago’s horror TV shows, a staple of the tube from the 1950’s through the 1980’s.
Titled Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theater To Svengoolie, the new book details the history of the shows, from their low-budget production values to their zany comedy antics as filler during the B-level monster movies that were shown.
TV horror movie shows were quite common in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, as local television stations filled downtime during late night and weekend time periods with such fare. The most famous perhaps, was Ghoulardi, a Friday night movie horror show that aired on CBS affiliate (now Fox-owned) WJW-TV in Cleveland in the 1960’s. Ghoulardi was played by the late Ernie Anderson, who would later go on to become one of the most recognizable voice-over personalities in America.
In Chicago, those shows included Shock Theater, which aired on the former WBKB-TV (now WLS-TV) from 1957 to 1959, featuring a hispter beatnik named “Marvin” (played by Terry Bennett), and of course Svengoolie, which originated as a character on WFLD-TV’s Screaming Yellow Theater in the 1970’s played by Jerry G. Bishop and now resides at WCIU-TV on Saturday nights with Rich Koz in the role (Koz took over as Son of Svengoolie at WFLD when the program returned to the station’s lineup after being canceled several years back.)
These types of shows would serve as inspiration for later programs like Mystery Science Theater 3000, which began on Minneapolis’ KTMA-TV (now CW affiliate WUCW-TV) in 1988 and later wound up on Comedy Central.
For more info on Chicago’s horror hosts (courtesy of Chicagotelevision.com), click here.