Monday, October 7, 2013

Jerry G. Bishop, the Original Svengoolie, 1935-2013

Welcome back for Week 2 of the Countdown to Halloween at Me and You and a Blog Named Boo. I hate to start the week on a down note, but I thought it appropriate to acknowledge the passing of a legendary broadcaster in the Cleveland, Chicago, and San Diego markets, Jerry G. Bishop. What makes this retrospective a candidate for the Countdown is because of one of his many jobs, that of horror movie TV host.

Bishop originated the character Svengoolie, a horror host for a new generation, for the local Chicago horror movie program Screaming Yellow Theater. Although Svengoolie had the usual corny jokes and creepy stage sets of your standard horror host, he also had the guise of a hippie (albeit a ghoulish one), with long hair and relaxed attire, a departure from the more traditional adorned host. He also sang song parodies related to the movies he screened, written by Bishop himself.

His show lasted only three years, but he proved popular, and inspired one of his writers to take on the role himself. Bishop encouraged underling Rick Koz to resurrect the character, named Son of Svengoolie, and continues in the role today both locally on Chicago station WCIU-TV and nationally on the ME TV retro television network.

Bishop would later become a broadcasting fixture in the San Diego area but had left his horror hosting duties behind him. Bishop past away on September 15th at the age of 77.

Here are some clips of Bishop as Svengoolie. Thanks!


Caffeinated Joe said...

Sorry for the loss. I never watched him or any versions of the character. Never had a horror movie host here that I ever saw. Missed out on that, sadly.

Phillyradiogeek said...

Philly had Zacherlie until he went to New York, and also had Svengoolie's successor when he was briefly syndicated in the early 80s.

Here is an article I wrote five years ago (wow, has it been that long?) about some of the biggest names in horror hosts.


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