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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Index

(Use the navigation bar above to display the alphabetical host info on other pages)


I N   M E M O R I U M   

The Advisor  |   The Bargain City Kid  |   Bob Wilkins  |   Dr. Scar  |   Dr. Shock (III)  |   Forrest J Ackerman  |   I. Zombi  |   Mr. Shreek, a.k.a. Gortem Shreek  |   M. T. Graves (I)  |   Sir Graves Ghastly  |   Sivad  |   Stefan the Castle Prankster  |   Vampira (I)  |  

UNDER CONSTUCTION!
Corrections?  More bad news?  Old obituaries or memorial tributes to share?  E-mail E-gor!



THE ADVISOR (Robert L. Hersh)

January 15, 1933 - April 30, 2006

See E-gor's THE ADVISOR entry on another page of this website.

See much more information about this host on Dick (Nitelinger) Golembiewski's Milwaukee Hosts of Horror website.


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Obituary published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 2, 2006:

Robert L. Hersh
April 30, 2006, born January 15, 1933, in Milwaukee, WI.

Predeceased by his parents, Atty. Emil and Mary A. Hersh, of Milwaukee, WI; and his brother, Atty. Frederick Hersh, of Phoenix, AZ. Survived by wife, Sandra (Hiken); son, Atty. Leonard Hersh, Milwaukee, WI; daughters, Laura (Morris) Weisman, Raanana, Israel; Susan (Andrew Appel) Hersh, Shorewood, WI; four grandchildren, Noam, Maya, and Adam Weisman of Raanana, and Julia Appel of Shorewood. He is also survived by his sister, Doris (the late Samuel) Chortek, River Hills, WI; an aunt, Betty Arnovitz, Marinette, WI; brother-in-law, Robert (the late Bedane Hiken) Lerner, Yorktown, VA; and many other dear relatives and friends.

Atty. Hersh was a graduate of University School of Milwaukee and Marquette University Law School. In 1984, he established Hersh Law Offices in Mequon, WI, where his practice continues under the guidance of his son.

Bob was known for being generous and kind. He was former chair of the Executive Committee of the Milwaukee Jewish Home and Care Center, and Past-President of Congregation Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun. He also supported many other community activities, including being a founding member of the children's theatre, Pick-a-Pack Players.

He was well-known for his role as "The Advisor," a host of TV horror films in the 1950s.

Bob approached life with enthusiasm and joy, and brought his wit and wisdom to those whose lives he touched. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, May 3, 2006, at Congregation Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun, 2020 West Brown Deer Road, River Hills, at 1:00 PM. Interment will follow at Spring Hill Cemetery, located at 166 S. Hawley Ct., Milwaukee. Memorial contributions to Congregation Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun, American Diabetes Association, or American Cancer Society will be appreciated by the family.

BLANE GOODMAN FUNERAL SERVICE
Online guestbook and information: www.blanegoodmanfunerals.com.
(262) 241-4444

     

Bob Hersh as the Advisor

The late-great Bob Hersh as The Advisor, first-generation horror host on stations WITI and WXIX in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Photo courtesy of Dick (Nitelinger) Golembiewski and his fabulous Milwaukee Hosts of Horror website.



THE BARGAIN CITY KID (Hyman "Hy" Ulner)

July 26, 1921 - January 3, 2007

See E-gor's THE BARGAIN CITY KID and WILLIE THALL entry on another page of this website


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Article by Rebecca Goodman published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Friday, January 5, 2007:

Fun-loving Hyman Ullner founded Rink's, did TV ads

WYOMING - Hyman Ullner, a founder of Rink's Bargain City Discount Department Store, died Wednesday at Christ Hospital. He had suffered a fall from which he did not recover. The Wyoming resident was 85.

People recognized Mr. Ullner as the "Bargain City Kid," a TV character in the early 1960s. Rink's sponsored wrestling and Mr. Ullner was known for throwing merchandise into the audience. He delighted viewers by declaring a set of plates "guaranteed breakable" before smashing them on the floor.

He also co-hosted Shock Theatre with Willie Thall, which aired on WCPO-TV on Friday nights in the early 1960s. Mr. Ullner engaged in silly antics wearing cap pistols and a goofy cowboy hat. It tickled him that years later, fans would ask for autographs.

Mr. Ullner grew up in the West End and graduated from Hughes High School. He served as a first sergeant with the Army Medical Corps in World War II. After the war, he and his brother, Coleman, bought 5,000 bottles of the sleep aid Amitol from the Army surplus store. Each bottle contained 1,000 pills.

"That's 5 million pills," he told the Enquirer in a 1964 interview.

The brothers set up shop across from the Greyhound bus station and sold the Amitol and other surplus goods. A year later they had stores in Covington and Northside. In 1951 they decided to bring all of their discount merchandise under one roof. They bought an old skating rink in Hamilton, and called the store Rink's.

Eventually Mr. Ullner acquired a discount chain in northern Ohio called Bargain City. Before Rink's was bought by Gray Drug Stores in 1964, he had 22 stores. Mr. Ullner continued as president of Rink's until 1968.

The following year he bought Hyde Park Clothes.

In 1967 he and some friends bought the property in Southgate that included the Beverly Hills Country Club, which closed in 1961. He reopened it as a dinner theater in 1968 and sold it to Richard J. Schilling in 1969. It became the Beverly Hills Supper Club and burned in 1977, killing 165 patrons.

Mr. Ullner represented Pete Rose in contract negotiations with the Reds. He, Rose and Reuven Katz bought the property east of the old Albee Theater across from Fountain Square in 1969.

He gave much of his money to charity. A benefactor of the City of Hope, a research center in California that treated patients with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, the hospital named him its man of the year in 1968.

And although he was Jewish, Mr. Ullner was a Santa Claus to thousands of needy children. His daughter said he used to hire buses to bring them to Rink's at Christmastime so they could wander the store and pick out anything they wanted - no matter the cost.

Possibly the only thing he enjoyed more than watching the children "shop" was spending time with his own grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He never missed a sporting event and enjoyed getting down and playing with them. Using antics reminiscent of the Bargain City Kid, he made them laugh.

Mr. Ullner's wife, Geraldine, died in 2004.

In addition to his daughter, Donna, survivors include a son, Richard Ullner of Wyoming; three sisters, Sarah Schwartz and Ruth Sacolick, both of Montgomery and Barbara Barral of California; five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Service is 2 p.m. today at Weil Funeral Home, 8350 Cornell Road.

Memorials are suggested to Yavneh Day School, 8401 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236.

     

The Bargain City Kid and Willie Thall

The Bargain City Kid (Hy Ullner, r.) and Willie Thall (l.), hosts of Shock Theatre on WCPO-TV, Channel 9 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Photo autographed by Hy Ullner courtesy of Linda Giglio.

Click for larger view.



BOB WILKINS (Robert Gene Wilkins)

April 11, 1932 - January 7, 2009

See E-gor's BOB WILKINS entry on another page of this website.

See much more information about this host on Scott Moon's BobWilkins.Net website.


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Obituary published in the Sacramento Bee on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009 (page 4B):

Creature Features host Bob Wilkins made scary movies fun

By Robert D. Dávila
bdavila@sacbee.com

Bob Wilkins, a Northern California TV personality whose dry wit and good taste in bad movies kept baby boomers up late Saturday nights to watch low-budget horror films, died Wednesday. He was 76.

He died in Reno of complications from Alzheimer's disease, said his wife, Sally.

Mr. Wilkins got his start as a pop-culture figure in 1966 as host of Seven Arts Theater, a late-night Saturday movie show on KCRA Channel 3. He showed horror and sci-fi B movies – many made in Japanese and dubbed in English – including Attack of the Mushroom People, The Mummy's Hand, The Blob and House on Haunted Hill.

He was an unlikely TV star, dressed in a suit and tie with his blond hair in a conservative cut and peering through horn-rimmed glasses. He sat in a rocking chair painted yellow to show off KCRA's then-new color broadcasts. He angered sponsors with warnings that the movies were so bad, viewers should change the channel or turn off the TV.

"Don't stay up late," he deadpanned. "It's not worth it."

Instead, Mr. Wilkins' ironic sense of humor drew young people to the kitschy show with the cool host who puffed a panatela cigar. He left Channel 3 to host the Bob Wilkins Horror Show on KTXL Channel 40 from 1970 to 1981.

He commuted to the Bay Area and expanded his audience as host of Creature Features on KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland from 1971 to 1979. He also interviewed horror and sci-fi stars on the late-night show, including Boris Karloff, Mark Hamill, Christopher Lee and William Shatner.

Mr. Wilkins influenced many artists in the comics and movie industries, including filmmaker George Lucas, said Scott Moon, publisher of Planet X Magazine and creator of a tribute Web site, www.bobwilkins.net. At public appearances, fans recalled fond childhood memories of his late-night shows.

"What you saw on TV was who he was in person," Moon said. "The movies were really scary, like 'Night of the Living Dead.' But when Bob would come on, he was so easygoing that he made it safe for you."

Robert Gene Wilkins was born in 1932 east of Chicago, the oldest of seven children reared by a steelworker and homemaker in Hammond, Ind. He worked in a steel mill and served in the Army in Korea before earning a bachelor's degree in marketing from Indiana University.

He worked at a Chicago advertising agency before moving to California in 1964 to join KCRA as a TV commercial writer and producer. His quick sense of humor as master of ceremonies at a retirement dinner caught the eye of station managers, who asked him to host a new, late-night show to keep Channel 3 on the air after the 11 p.m. news on Saturdays. He married a co-worker, Sally Dorety, in 1967 and had two children.

Mr. Wilkins, who also worked as a KTVU weatherman and children's show host, left TV in 1981. He started his own Bay Area advertising agency and moved to Reno by 1991 to be media director for John Ascuaga's Nugget. He retired in 1995.

Off screen, he was a devoted family man. The first in his working-class family to finish college, he bought a house for his parents and six younger sisters in Indiana before moving to California. He coached his son's Little League team, drove his daughter to ballet classes and enjoyed doing chores at home while watching Indiana University and Notre Dame sports on TV.

"He would sometimes have my sister and me come down to the studio and see the shows taped," said his son, Rob Wilkins. "But he and my mom would seldom let us stay up to watch the show. There were rules at home."


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More Information

Bob Wilkins
Born: April 11, 1932
Died: Jan. 7, 2009
Survived by: Wife, Sally Wilkins of Reno; son, Rob Wilkins of Oakland; daughter, Nancy Fitzpatrick of Sacramento; sisters, Nancy George, Linda Seth, Judie Chism, Sally Blevins and Sue Dorrance, all of Indiana; and two grandchildren
Services: 2 p.m. Jan. 24 at Montclair Presbyterian Church, 5701 Thornhill Drive, Oakland. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer's Association – Northern California and Northern Nevada, 1060 La Avenida St., Mountain View, CA 94043.

     

Bob Wilkins

Bob Wilkins, legendary host of Creature Features and other 60s/70s shows in northern California.
Photo autographed by Bob Wilkins courtesy of Michael "Doktor Goulfinger" Monahan.

Click for larger view.



DR. SCAR (Jack Jacobson)

? ? 1921 - March 23, 2009

See E-gor's DR. SCAR entry on another page of this website.

See career biography of Jack Jacobson on this website, courtesy of Jack and his son Steve Jacobson

See and hear video clips of Jacobson (and Dr. Scar!), and a radio interview with him, courtesy of Robert Rappaport

See A Tribute to Our Friend Jack Jacobson on the Arizona Survivors (media and advertising veterans) website


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Obituary published in the Arizona Daily Star on Tuesday, March 24, 2009:

TV pioneer Jack Jacobson, Tucson's 'Dr. Scar,' dies at 87

By Alex Dalenberg

Tucson TV pioneer Jack Jacobson, perhaps best known for his weekly portrayal of KGUN-TV horror movie host “Dr. Scar” in the 1960s, died Monday. He was 87.

“He was the ultimate ham,” said friend Ray Lindstrom. “He never met a camera he didn’t like.”

Jacobson, a member of the Arizona Broadcasters Hall of Fame, began his career when he was 8 years old on the “Uncle Bob Pierce and Company” radio show in Rochester, N.Y. The year was 1929.

As a teen he worked as a comic in New York City night clubs before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in 1942. But even World War II didn’t keep Jacobson from his true calling. He fought the Nazis with laughs as a comic in the Sky Blazers, a Combat Special Services entertainment unit. Jacobson’s troupe toured North Africa, the Middle East and England and were among the first entertainers to land in Europe after the D-Day invasion. He would later recall that performances would sometimes be interrupted by enemy bombs.

“He knew how to perform in any situation,” Lindstrom said. Jacobson was awarded the Bronze Star for his service during the war. “Introducing the Sky Blazers,” a book he wrote about his wartime experiences, will be published in June.

After returning to the U.S., Jacobson started a career in TV. In 1962 he was hired as program and promotion manager for KGUN-TV in Tucson. Lindstrom, who was working at the station as an announcer while going to school at the University of Arizona, said he looked up to Jacobson. “To me he was an old man, a real pro,” Lindstrom said.

His signature character, the “kindly, lovable” Dr. Scar, gained a cult following hosting KGUN’s weekly horror-movie show, “Chiller." Jacobson would slather himself in stage makeup and ham it up, climbing out of coffins and telling dark jokes.

“He was probably as close a thing to somebody who had roots in vaudeville than anyone I’ve known,” said Bob Lee, Community Relations Coordinator for KMSB-TV.

     

Dr. Scar, pioneer horror host in Tucson AZ

Jack Jacobson as kindly, lovable Dr. Scar, host of Big 9 Chiller on KGUN-TV in Tucson, Arizona.
Autographed photo courtesy of Jack and Steve Jacobson.
Click for larger view.



DR. SHOCK (III - Tommy Reynolds)

October 30, 1932 - January 20, 2008

See E-gor's DR. SHOCK (III) entry on another page of this website


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Memorial article posted on the WTVC website:

Dr. Shock Dies

January 23, 2008 - 1:22 PM
Richard Simms

WTVC and many of our viewers remember a former colleague today. If you watched NewsChannel 9 in the early 70's you probably remember Doctor Shock and his sidekick, Dingbat on Shock Theatre.

Tommy Nelson Reynolds, who played the character of Doctor Shock, has passed away. He was 75 years old.

Far ahead of their time, Doctor Shock, Dingbat and Nurse Goodbody would engage each other in humorous repertoire during commercial breaks. The baby boomers among us usually could care less what the movie was. We hung around just to see the commercial breaks, and many Saturday night dates ended in the living room in the company of Dr. Shock and Dingbat.

Dingbat was the creation of then-WTVC Artist Dan East. Both moved on to other careers, which ended the reign of Shock Theatre.

Reynolds moved to Huntsville, Ala. Dan East passed away several years ago.

The two left an indelible mark on Chattanooga television and the cry of Dingbat's "FLASH, FLASH, FLASH!" with a breaking tidbit of humorous news.... will never fade from the memories of many long-time WTVC viewers.

Funeral arrangements are being handled Laughlin Funeral Home in Huntsville.

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Obituary posted on the Laughlin Service Funeral Home website:

Thomas Nelson "Sonny" Reynolds

(October 30, 1932 - January 20, 2008)

Thomas Nelson “Sonny” Reynolds, 75, of Huntsville, passed away Sunday. Mr. Reynolds had a long and illustrious career in radio and television broadcasting. He worked at Channel 9 in Chattanooga for many years before returning to Huntsville where he was employed at Channel 19 as the creative commercial director until his retirement. He will probably best be remembered as “Dr. Shock”. He was a 32nd degree Mason. He was preceded in death by his son, Thomas Nelson Reynolds, Jr. and granddaughter, Lorraine Anne Merriman. He was an inspiration to his family and known by his friends as a “real character”.

Survivors include daughters, Diane Heap and husband, Richard, of Spanish Fork, Utah and Debi Heath and husband, Ken, of Salt Lake City, Utah; ex-wife and friend, Mary Reynolds of Spanish Fork, Utah; five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Laughlin Service Funeral Home. The funeral service will be at 11:00 a.m. Friday at the funeral home chapel. Burial will be in Maple Hill Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, 400 Meridian St., Huntsville 35801.

     

Dr. Shock, horror host in Chattanooga TN

Dr. Shock, host of Shock Theatre in Chattanooga TN and Huntsville AL.

Click image to see a larger view of the photo this was cropped from.



FORREST J ACKERMAN (aka Dr. Acula, The Ackermonster, many others)

November 24, 1916 – December 4, 2008

See E-gor's FMeral Appreciation of Forrest J Ackerman with links to lots of graphics and information about Uncle Forry.


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Obituary published in the New York Times on December 6, 2008 (page A19 of the New York edition):

Forrest J Ackerman, High Elder of Fantasy Fans, Is Dead at 92

By Bruce Weber
Published: December 6, 2008

It’s a common claim that someone is the world’s biggest fan of such-and-such. Elizabeth Taylor’s biggest fan. The biggest fan of the New York Jets. The world’s biggest country music fan. Hardly anyone takes such a designation seriously, except, perhaps, when it comes to Forrest J Ackerman, whose obsessive devotion to science fiction and horror stories was so fierce that he helped propel their popularity. Indeed, he was widely credited with coining the term sci-fi.

Mr. Ackerman died on Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 92. The cause was heart failure, The Associated Press reported, quoting Kevin Burns, who is head of the production company Prometheus Entertainment and a trustee of Mr. Ackerman’s estate.

In the cultural niche defined by monsters, rocket ships and severed body parts, Mr. Ackerman was decreed by acclamation to be its leading citizen. He was a film buff, an editor of pulp magazines and anthologies, a literary agent for dozens of science fiction writers and an amateur historian. No one has evidently disputed his claim that he created the expression sci-fi.

He was also an omnivorous memorabilia collector who once turned a former home of his overlooking Los Angeles into a sort of scream-a-torium. Thousands of science-fiction fans made pilgrimages to the house, a repository of more than 300,000 books, posters, masks, costumes, statuettes, models, film props and other artifacts. (He sold the house several years ago to pay for mounting medical bills.)

“He was the world’s biggest fan,” the writer Stephen King said in a recent phone interview. “If you had been to his house, you wouldn’t doubt it.”

Mr. Ackerman’s appetite for science fiction embraced the highbrow as well as the low. His favorite film, he often said, was Fritz Lang’s futuristic masterpiece from 1927, Metropolis. He said he had seen it nearly 100 times. In 2002, when he received a lifetime achievement award at the World Fantasy Convention, he shared honors with one of the most admired writers of fantasy and science fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin, whose book “The Other Wind” was named the year’s best novel.

But Mr. Ackerman spent most of his time in the arena of pop culture. Between 1958 and 1983, he wrote and edited Famous Monsters of Filmland, a seminal black-and-white magazine heavily illustrated with photographs from Mr. Ackerman’s collection. The magazine emphasized the scream-worthy features of movies and was fond of groan-worthy wordplay. “Menace, Anyone?” was a typical title. But it also conveyed the idea that language was flexible and that using it could be fun.

The magazine fired the imaginations of generations of young horror fans, including Mr. King and the filmmakers George Lucas and Joe Dante (Gremlins).

“When you think of the size of the business, the dollar amount, that has sprung up out of fantasy, the people who made everything from Star Wars to Jaws” Mr. King said, “well, Forry was a part of their growing up. The first time I met Steven Spielberg, we didn’t talk about movies. We talked about monsters and Forry Ackerman.”

Forrest James Ackerman (he used his middle initial, but without the period) was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 24, 1916. His father was a statistician for an oil company. He saw his first science-fiction film in 1922: One Glorious Day, the story of a disembodied spirit that takes over the soul of a tired professor, played by Will Rogers. Four years later he discovered science-fiction magazines, starting with Amazing Stories, and began collecting them and science-fiction memorabilia. His collection eventually included more than 40,000 books and 100,000 film stills.

His wife, Wendayne, a teacher who translated many science-fiction novels from French and German into English, put up with the collection but restricted it to the lower floors of the house, which in the science-fiction world was known as the Ackermansion, in Horrorwood, Karloffornia. (After her death in 1990, the collection began creeping up the stairs.)

The couple had no children, and Mr. Ackerman leaves no immediate survivors.

After serving in the Army during World War II, he started a literary agency that eventually represented, by his count, 200 writers, including, at different times, Ray Bradbury, H. P. Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard, who later founded Scientology.

Mr. Ackerman said he came up with “sci-fi” in 1954. He was driving in a car with his wife when he heard a radio announcer say “hi-fi.” The term sci-fi just came reflexively and unbidden out of his mouth, he said.

Over the years he published as many as 50 short stories of his own, wrote most of the articles in Famous Monsters himself under pseudonyms like Dr. Ackula and wrote and edited many other magazines with titles like Monster World. At his induction into the Horror Hall of Fame in 1990, the actor Robert Englund (a k a the serial killer Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films) introduced Mr. Ackerman as “the Hugh Hefner of horror.”

Mr. Ackerman also invented the comic character Vampirella. And as testimony to his ubiquitous presence, he acted (sort of) in more than 50 films, almost always as an extra. His longest screen appearance was a two-minute scene in which he played the president of the United States in the science-fiction spoof Amazon Women on the Moon (1987).

“He was an appreciator, a collector, not a creator,” Mr. King said. “Well, he was a creator in the sense that with the magazine he gave us a window into a world we really wanted to see. He was our Hubble telescope.”

     

Forrest J Ackerman

Forrest J Ackerman, legendary founder and editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and the best friend a Monster Kid ever had.

Click to see a larger autographed portrait of Forry, inscribed to M.T. Graves!

Though Forry wasn't a TV horror host per se, his magazine was inspired by the success of the first Shock Theater package, and his persona as editor was closely related to the role played by "spook show" hosts in every medium. In addition to playing cameo roles in dozens of films, he hosted a few of them on film, videotape and DVD, and was a special guest on TV movie showcases hosted by Bob Wilkins, Count Gore De Vol, and Moona Lisa, among others. He also supplied the voice of "Professor Bruno Lampini" (named after George Zucco's doomed character in House of Frankenstein in the opening for Professor Griffin's Midnight Shadow Show, a TV horror host show based in Texas.



I. ZOMBI (Hayden Milligan)

Died of cancer in November, 2007

See E-gor's I. ZOMBI entry on another page of this website.

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A very sad announcement originally posted on November 20, 2007, by Shane M. Dallman (aka TV horror host Remo D.) to the members of the Fans of Horrorhosts Yahoo group:

I am so sorry to be the one to break the news to the group. Our dear friend Hayden "I Zombi" Milligan is at peace. Here's the bulletin from his sister.

He passed away Monday night around 7:30, he was in immense pain, now he no longer is. He is in Heaven with a new healthy body, pain and sickness free. I loved him so much and His wife and I were with him when he died. .... I am so sorry that you had to find out this way, and I thank each and every one of you for being his friend. ....
Always remember him, and when you think you can't do something, think of him and I bet you will think again!!!
Shortly afterward, with the help of some of Hayden's friends, Shane Dallman organized a testimonial show as ":a reluctant farewell tribute .... to the late, great Hayden "I. ZOMBI" Milligan .... the best friend a horror host ever had -- to a wonderful human being and the most REAL person I've ever known."

The tribute show aired on Monterey cable channel 24 (AMP) and was also shown on-line at www.ampmedia.org.

Dallman posted this advance announcement to the Fans of Horrorhosts group:
We will be running Hayden's personal favorite episode of The Witching Hour --- his heartfelt, outspoken Christmas special (chock full of his unique personality AND plenty of grisly Yuletide-themed horror clips!) in its entirety... ...and I'll be joining The Bone Jangler and Nocturna, as well as Ghastlee and The American (comin' at ya as good old Bob and Jeff) as we share our memories, pay our respects and unreel some vintage Cinema Wasteland clips of I. ZOMBI rocking out with the HHU [other members of the Horror Host Underground] ....

If one must say goodbye, I believe this is the way to do it.
"Departed" will never mean "forgotten." Please join us for a celebration of an incredible life!
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From a moving memorial tribute posted by another horror host, Dr. Gangrene, on his Tales from the Lab blogspot on November 21, 2007:

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Lexington KY horror host I. Zombi ....

I. Zombi was played by Hayden Milligan, one of the genuinely nicest people you could ever hope to meet. Virtually everyone who knew Hayden was touched by his gentleness and courage. He overcame tremendous odds by creating and performing despite horrible burns over the majority of his body at the age of two. He underwent years of physical therapy growing up. He never let his affliction hold him back, despite the odds being stacked against him. He worked out, played guitar, dressed as an Elvis Impersonator, ran his own video company, and hosted movies on The Witching Hour. Hayden was a friend and a true inspiration. He found out earlier this year he had inoperable cancer, a final unfair blow to one who had suffered so much in this life.

Farewell Hayden, you will be missed.

     

I. Zombi, played by Hayden Milligan

The late great Hayden Milligan as I. Zombi, host of The Witching Hour, aired on Insight public access cable in Lexington KY, and in many other places thanks to the Horror Host Underground, a great documentary about him, and the World Wide Web!



MR. SHREEK aka GORTEM SHREEK (John Hanson)

Died January 22, 2008

See E-gor's MR. SHREEK entry on another page of this website.


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Announcement sent by John Hanson's younger brother Erik to John's distribution list of e-mail correspondents:

Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2008 18:13:00 -0800 (PST)
From: mr shreek
Subject: really bad news

Hello everyone,
This is johnnys little brother erik (mr shreeks little brother to some of you).
I am extremely sorry to inform everyone that johnny is no longer with us.
He committed suicide on tuesday morning at about 8am.
I realize that some of you may have already got the news,
I just figured it might be a bit easier to send this to all his contacts in one shot.
If anyone has questions or just wants to talk please feel free to call me ....
This is an extremely difficult time for me and everyone involved, so I appreciate
if you could keep us in your prayers....

thanks everyone,
sincerely,
Erik

     

Mr. Shreek

John Hanson as Mr. Shreek, the late host of Black Sky Cinema on Minneapolis public access TV.

Click to see a promo card for this show.



M. T. GRAVES (Charles Morrison Baxter)

March 29, 1925 - October 3, 2007

See E-gor's M.T. GRAVES entry on another page of this website.

See much more about this host on E-gor's tribute website, M.T. Graves and Charlie Baxter Present THE DUNGEON.


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Obituary published in The Miami Herald on October 7, 2007:

BAXTER, CHARLES MORRISON, March 29, 1925 - October 3, 2007

Preceded in death by parents, Floyd and Vivian (Morrison) Baxter; wife, Margot Bryden Baxter; former wife and friend, Sylvia Baxter. Survived by son, Timothy (Janice) Baxter of Boone, NC; daughter, Alexandra Beth (Richard) Rouse; granddaughters, Madeleine Shae and Gabriella Celeste Rouse; grandson, Ian Charles Rouse, all of Mount Juliet, TN; numerous friends and fans.

Mr. Baxter was a celebrity in the Miami and South Florida area in the 1950's through the 1970's and was beloved to many fans. He was born in Toledo, Ohio and served in the United States Marine Corps as a young man. He had an admirable singing and speaking voice and began his career as an announcer for the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team.

He relocated to Florida and was a TV personality for WCKT-Channel 7 then later with WKID-Channel 51. He created and portrayed such well- known characters as M.T. Graves, Captain M.T. Space, Professor Klinker, and Captain Kidd, among others. He was known for his kindness to his numerous fans.

After leaving the public eye in the 1970's, he worked at Broward Community College in Davie, Florida where he wrote, narrated, and produced shows for schoolchildren visiting Buehler Planetarium.

In the mid-1980's Mr. Baxter relocated to the Nashville, Tennessee area and enjoyed a retirement which included a passion for movies, music, and books, and enjoyed corresponding with old friends and fans.

In accordance with Mr. Baxter's wishes, no services will be scheduled. Mr. Baxter generously donated his body to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Cumberland University's Fine Arts Council (Lebanon,Tennessee) or to The Salvation Army. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and fans.

To visit this Guest Book Online, go to www.MiamiHerald.com/obituaries.

     

M.T. Graves

M.T. Graves, host of The Dungeon on WCKT-TV, Channel 7 in Miami, and of M.T. Graves Presents on WKID-TV in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida


Click to see a larger autographed portrait of M.T., inscribed to Forrest J Ackerman!



SIR GRAVES GHASTLY (Lawson J. Deming)

April 23, 1913 - April 24, 2007

See E-gor's SIR GRAVES GHASTLY entry on another page of this website.

See much more information about this host at Keith Milford's SirGravesGhastly.com website.


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Obituary published in the Detroit Free Press on April 27, 2007:

RIP Sir Graves Ghastly

TV host Sir Graves is dead
He hosted horror flicks on WJBK

April 27, 2007
By John Smyntek
Free Press Staff Writer

Lawson Deming, who portrayed campy Detroit TV vampire Sir Graves Ghastly, surrendered to the Grim Reaper on Tuesday night at his Ohio home.

His demise -- he was believed to be 94 -- was reported by Keith Milford, gravemaster of www.SirGravesGhastly.com.

The site seems destined to keep Deming's bad jokes -- "What's the favorite meal of sea monsters? Fish and ships" -- alive indefinitely.

His passing marks another nail in the coffin of the period when local TV stations used kitschy, over-the-top horror movie hosts to entertain kids on Saturday afternoons.

In a ghoulish footnote, Bobby (Boris) Pickett, whose Halloween anthem "Monster Mash" topped the charts in 1962, died Wednesday of leukemia at age 69.

Deming spent more than 50 years in broadcasting, capped by his 1967-83 run as Sir Graves on Saturdays on WJBK-TV (Channel 2).

Deming, who lived in and around Cleveland all his life, traveled twice monthly to Detroit to tape his shows. He was 5-feet-5 1/2 with lead gray hair and a long face, before his vampirish makeup.

He went to college at Western Reserve where he studied speech, drama and math, and began his radio career in his hometown in 1932 at WHK. "He was an old vaudevillian too," recalled former WJBK coworker Sonny Eliot.

On TV, it was a Cleveland children's puppet show called Woodrow the Woodsman that brought Deming to Detroit and WJBK late in 1966, when the show was moved here for taping.

Soon after, Deming was approached about playing a horror movie host named Ghoulardi. But because Ghoulardi was already being done in Cleveland by Ernie Anderson, Deming created something new.

Each Sir Graves show started with Deming emerging from a casket. ("He played that like a vaudevillian, too," Eliot recalled.) He played all the show's characters -- including the zany Tillie Trollhouse -- but seldom watched the films he presented.

"I've seen them all too many times," he said.

Deming loved being recognized, even without the vamp suit.

"People love Sir Graves," he said in a 1982 Free Press interview, "and I love people."

Milford says he will post memorial details on the Graves Ghastly Web site.

     

Sir Graves Ghastly

Lawson Deming as the great Detroit, Cleveland and D.C. horror host Sir Graves Ghastly!

Click image to see the complete photo it was cropped from.



SIVAD (Watson Davis)

Died March 23, 2005

See E-gor's SIVAD entry on another page of this website.

See two great articles about this host contributed by Harris Lentz: Sivad and Fantastic Features and Sivad's Fantastic Features TV Log!


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Obituary published in the Memphis Commercial Appeal on March 25, 2005:

Actor carved local legend
"Sivad" spooked generation of kids as Mid-South's "Monster of Ceremonies"

By Bill Dries
March 25, 2005

Every Saturday night for more than a decade on Memphis television, Watson Davis frightened and charmed legions of children and young adults with his fanged and pale-faced alter ego.

Davis donned a cape, cane, top hat and false vampire teeth in the early 1960s to become Sivad -- the "Monster of Ceremonies" for Fantastic Features, WHBQ-TV's weekly showing of an old horror movie.

Mr. Davis, an actor and an advertising director for Malco Theaters, died Wednesday of cancer in Stuttgart, Ark. He was 92 and still had his costume close by, according to his nephew, Buddy Davis of Memphis.

The Saturday evening tradition began with the ominous dirge of classical music and a film of Sivad driving a horse-drawn hearse in a foggy Overton Park, pulling a coffin from the back and opening it.

In the studio, he would begin with a suitably ghoulish "A goooooood evening." He hosted commercial breaks in the horror movies with routines that were more slapstick than frightening.

"He had no idea how big it would become. He just decided to put on the hat and cape and teeth and turned his name around," his nephew said.

Mr. Davis had shown a fondness for costumes, including Sivad's, when promoting movies at what is now the Orpheum. He began working for Malco as an usher when he was 13. The origin of the stage name was simple, he explained years later. "That's my name backwards. I just made that up thinking in terms of something like Houdini. You know, one word." An early indication of the character's popularity was a June 1963 appearance at the Fairgrounds that drew 30,000 people. Buddy Davis said his uncle was offered a flat fee of $500 or a percentage of the dollar-a-head admission, and to his later regret, took the $500.

He made several novelty records including "Sivad Buries Rock and Roll" that have since become collectors' items. Mr. Davis soon hired an agent.

At home, he took calls from neighborhood children delighted to hear him answer the phone with his famous opening line. And the Davis home was a mandatory stop on Halloween. By 1971, Sivad had so many appearances booked in Memphis and the Mid-South that Mr. Davis left his job with Malco.

His fame continued long after WHBQ discontinued the horror movies in the mid-1970s and network programming ran into the later evening hours.

Mr. Davis and his son opened an auto repair shop and despite requests over the years, Mr. Davis always insisted, "Sivad is gone forever."

Mr. Davis, the husband of Mable Bullock Davis, also leaves three daughters, Robin Lavell Inman, Debbie Maier and Beverly Ideker, all of Stuttgart; a son, Billy Davis of Clarendon, Ark.; 12 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Graveside services will be Saturday at 2 p.m. at Shady Grove Cemetery in Clarendon. Bob Neal & Sons Funeral Home of Clarendon has charge.

     

Fan photo of Sivad

Signed fan photo of Watson Davis as Sivad, WHBQ-TV, Memphis. Courtesy of Harris Lentz.

Click for larger view.



STEFAN THE CASTLE PRANKSTER (Stephen Luncinski)

January 3, 1957 - January 8, 2009

See CHILLY BILLY entry on another page of this website.

See much more information about Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater family on John Buriak's Chiller Theater Memories website.


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Article by Michael Hasch published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on January 10, 2009:

Chiller Theater actor reached out to help others

Stephen "Steve" Luncinski, known on Chiller Theater as the diminutive, impish Stefan the Castle Prankster, "had the heart of a giant, a quick wit and a great mind," said his good friend, Bill Cardille.

Mr. Luncinski, who with his family owned and operated Pinnacle Auto Service on Brownsville Road in Carrick, died suddenly in his Baldwin Borough home late Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. He was 52.

"Steve had a personality everybody loved," said Cardille. "He was quick with a comeback. I never knew what he was going to do."

When Cardille, still known as Chilly Billy from his days as host of Channel 11's late-night, long-running show, was given the opportunity to create his own television Chiller Family in 1976, he immediately thought of the young man he met in Las Vegas.

"Lou (his wife, Louise) and I were standing in line for a midnight show. Somebody tugged at my jacket. I looked around and didn't see anybody. Then I looked down. He said, 'I'm Steve Luncinski. I'm from Pittsburgh. I watch you and Chiller Theater and wanted to say hello."

"We talked for a few minutes and I said, 'Give me a call some time.' About 3:30 in the morning, the phone rings in our room. I said hello and he said, 'Hi, this is Steve.' I said, 'Steve who?' He said, 'I met you tonight,'" Cardille said with a laugh. "That's where I got the idea of the Castle Prankster."

Mr. Luncinski became Cardille's alter ego on the show, even sporting tuxedos together on television and personal appearances.

They became close friends off-air as well, often appearing together for charitable causes including the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

"Steve was a man's man and did a lot of good things to help others who were less fortunate," Cardille said.

Mr. Luncinski was active in politics, making unsuccessful runs for the state Senate and Allegheny County Council.

"He liked the limelight and played it very well, but he wasn't a show-off. He just liked people. He liked everybody. I never heard him say a bad word about anybody. He was about 20 steps ahead of everybody in the way of life," Cardille said.

Mr. Luncinski's survivors include his two sons; his father; and a brother. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Michael Hasch can be reached at mhasch@tribweb.com or 412-320-7820.

     

Stefan the Castle Prankster

Stefan the Castle Prankster, beloved member of the Chiller Theater family on WPXI-TV, Channel 11 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Click to see a larger photo of Stefan with other Chillery Theater family members.



VAMPIRA (Maila Syrjäniemi, a.k.a. Maila Nurmi)

December 21, 1921 - January 10, 2008

See E-gor's VAMPIRA (I) entry on another page of this website.

See more information at her official website Vampira's Attic.


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Obituary published in the Los Angeles Times on January 15, 2008:

Maila Nurmi; actress created early TV's Vampira character

By Jocelyn Y. Stewart, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
8:52 AM PST, January 15, 2008

In the early days of television, when horror movies were often campy by nature, actress Maila Nurmi created the character Vampira, a glamorous ghoul who as hostess of late-night fright films in the 1950s layered on her own brand of camp.

Vampira played with her pet tarantula, gave gruesome recipes for vampire cocktails and bathed in a boiling caldron. With a knack for the double-entendre and the requisite blood-chilling scream, Vampira was a hit.

The character won Nurmi short-lived fame and a dedicated cult following. Nurmi claimed Vampira was also the uncredited inspiration for later ghoulish yet glamorous female characters in film and television, including Elvira.

Nurmi, who also appeared in the 1959 Edward D. Wood Jr. movie Plan 9 From Outer Space, was found dead in her Hollywood home Jan. 10. The cause of death was still being investigated, said Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County coroner's office. Nurmi was believed to be 85, although sources offer conflicting dates of birth.

Born Maila Syrjäniemi in Finland, Nurmi immigrated to the United States when she was a toddler. By 17, she had dropped her surname and taken on that of her famous uncle Paavo Nurmi, a world-class runner known as the "Flying Finn." In her teens, she moved to New York, and then Los Angeles, to pursue a career in acting.

Little came of Nurmi's efforts to land conventional leading roles in theater or on-screen. The unconventional came calling in 1953, after Nurmi attended a Hollywood masquerade ball dressed as the ghoul of Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons.

"I bound my bosoms, so that I was flat-chested," Nurmi said, "and I got a wig, and painted my body a kind of a mauve white pancake with a little lavender powder so that I looked as though I'd been entombed."

Nurmi's costume was judged the best at the ball, according to an article that was posted last week on vampirasattic.com, her website. Months later, a KABC-TV producer tracked her down and offered her work as hostess of a late-night horror show.

In creating Vampira, Nurmi said she went beyond the Addams cartoon, developing an alter ego influenced by beatnik culture and her experiences as a child of the Depression.

Vampira wore a low-cut tattered black dress that showed off her impossibly small waist (courtesy of a waist cincher) and displayed more cleavage than was common for the day. With her 6-inch-long nails and dark, dramatically arched eyebrows, watching Vampira was "a release for people."

"The times . . . were so conservative and so constrained," Nurmi said in a video interview that was posted on her website. "There was so much repression, and people needed to identify with something explosive, something outlandish and truthful."

Shortly after her debut, Vampira appeared in Life magazine, and soon there were fan clubs around the world.

"I was high-rolling in Hollywood, and I was quite full of myself," Nurmi said in a 1994 interview with People magazine.

But in 1955, KABC canceled her show, and the result was a stinging decline. When she met Wood at a party during the height of her career, she felt nothing but disdain, she told People magazine, but when he approached her in 1956 and offered her $200 to appear in his movie, she accepted the offer.

"I was scraping by on $13 a week," she said in the People article. "I thought, 'Well, here I go. I'm going to commit professional suicide right now.' "

Plan 9 From Outer Space, a zombie movie, has been called the worst movie ever. She appeared in a few more movies, but by the 1960s, Nurmi's career had taken a turn toward oblivion.

"I'm a lady linoleum-layer," she told a Times reporter in 1962. "And if things are slow in linoleum, I can also do carpentry, make drapes or refinish furniture." And for 99 cents an hour, she cleaned celebrity houses, she told Entertainment Weekly in 1994.

Nurmi opened a Vampira antique shop, but she continued to struggle to make ends meet. In the late 1980s, Nurmi filed a lawsuit against another glamorous ghoul. She alleged that Elvira had ripped off her character, copying features such as a "distinctive, low-cut, tattered black dress, emphasizing cleavage and a voluptuous figure."

The courts disagreed.

Nurmi's influence can be seen in the teen "goth" look of today, said Dana Gould, a longtime friend of Nurmi.

"She really sort of cast the mold for a look that is still around," said the comedy writer and comedian.

Director Tim Burton's film about Wood, starring Johnny Depp, introduced a new audience to Wood and Nurmi.

Later in life, Nurmi, who was divorced and had no children, began creating Vampira drawings and selling them on the Internet. She remained proud and protective of the character she created, Gould said.

"I don't have any babies or any social history that's remarkable, so I'm leaving something behind, you know, when the time comes to say goodbye, I'm leaving something," she said in an interview with KABC's Eyewitness News.

A memorial service is being planned.

     

Autographed photo from the Vampira TV show

Autographed publicity photo from The Vampira Show, KABC-TV, Los Angeles CA.

Click for larger view.



End of Obituaries  Go back to E-gor's Chamber of TV Horror Hosts INDEX