was a boy
of all TV
Zacherley aka Roland aka
The Cool Ghoul hosted Shock Theater on WCAU-TV Channel 10 in Philadelphia from 1957 to 1958.
Zacherley (aka Zacherle) also recorded dozens of spooky songs.
His stomach turning "Dinner with Drac" penetrated the top 20 in the early spring of 1958 and became one of the biggest horror hits of the 1950s.
"Dinner With Drac (pt. 1)"
- John Zacherle (March 1958)
Zacherle's rusty relic "Igor" was the first of three different songs to be released on Cameo 130 as the fab flip side of
"Dinner With Drac," the other killer bees being "The Cool Ghoul" and "Dinner With Drac (pt.2)." "Igor" can also be
found lurking on Zacherle's Scary Tales album.
"Igor" John Zacherle (March 1958, uncharted)
During the late 50s,
we also pointed our
TV antenna southward
to catch Dr. Lucifer
(Richard Dix) hosting
Shock! on WBAL-TV
Channel 11 in Baltimore.
Richard Dix as Dr. Lucifer
in Philly throughout the 1970s. With Zacherley's blessing, Zawislak borrowed the look of Roland for his Dr. Shock character, but made his own distinct mark on the genre with brilliant comic timing, expert showmanship and goofy magic tricks.
But it was the inclusion of a child, "Bubbles" or "Bubzie" as she was sometimes called, that really set the show apart from others. Joe brought his tiny daughter on the show to reassure parents that it was safe to let their children watch his Saturday horror fest.
Bubbles, named after the program's soda pop sponsor, eventually opened every show by knocking on the closed coffin, at which time "Shocky Doc" would rise from the dead.
It was heartwarming to watch little Bubbles (Doreen) grow up on the air during the program's ten year run from 1969 to 1979 and to observe the interaction between father and daughter. Joe was gentle, playful and respectful in his handling of Doreen, making it obvious that theirs was a loving relationship.
In 1979 thousands
of horror fans
and grief stricken
when Dr. Shock
claimed the life
of Joe Zawislak
at the age of 42.
Joe's death came four years before that of another Philly broadcast great, Jim O'Brien of Channel 6 Action News.
The two men shared key similarities:
* Both were extremely likeable and naturally funny
Philadelphia based TV personalities whose popularity
extended beyond the Delaware Valley to Central
* Both men were in their early 40s when they died
suddenly late in the month of September.
* Both deaths are examples of what I call
MacArthur Park moments. The Action News
dream team was never the same without Jim, and
the special chemistry between Shocky and Bubbles
cannot be duplicated. In each case it can be said
they'll never have that recipe again.
Zach, Lucifer, Shocky - thanks for all
of those great memories, guys.
You too, Bubbles!
Have a Shady Halloween...whatever you are!
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