Svengoolie - A green-haired hippie vampire
costumed in bellbottoms, headband and sunglasses who hosted the Friday night
horror show Screaming Yellow Theater on WFLD-TV Channel 23 in Chicago
Played by Jerry G. Bishop, the Svengoolie character was popular with many
viewers but he was canceled after only three years.
In 1979, however, Rich Koz, a fan and contributor of comedy materials for the
original Svengoolie program resurrected the character on WFLD-TV Channel 32 in
Chicago as Son of Svengoolie.
The new character was a pasty-faced hipster vampire who sported a goatee,
mustache, silk scarf, top hat, tuxedo jacket, a halo of dark curly hair and dark
circles around his eyes that accentuated his white complexion.
Speaking in a Transylvanian accent, (a la the original Svengoolie) the Son of
Svengoolie welcomed his viewers into his dungeon abode to watch the "worst" in
horror and sci-fi movies.
Other characters on the program included:
- Doug Scharf as Doug Graves, a cigar-smoking piano player in sunglasses
- Durwood, a ventriloquist's dummy (first seen on the original Svengoolie
- Zallman T. Tombstone, Jr., the ghost of a loudmouth used car salesman who
haunted Son of Sven (Sven killed him in a freak auto accident while living in
The beginning of each Son of Svengoolie show begins with the overblown
announcement "Calling All Stations, Clear The Airlanes, Clear All Airlanes, For
the Big Broadcast!!!" The intro was inspired by old radio programs like Walter
Winchell radio news show that began ""Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. North and South
America and all the ships at sea, Let's go to press...FLASH!"
Before the end of each show, the Son of Sven was guaranteed to have performed
commercial parodies, reedited scene from that night's movie for comic effect and
been clobbered over the head with a rubber chicken.
One of the gimmicks carried over from the original Svengoolie program
with Jerry Bishop was the catchphrase "Berwyn!" (a Chicago suburb) that is
often shouted on the show. The "Berwyyyyn!" idea was inspired by
Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson), a local horror show host in the early 1960s who
made fun of Parma, a section of Cleveland. In the same spirit, comedians Rowan
and Martin and late night show host Johnny Carson later made fun of the
California town of Burbank - calling it "Beautiful downtown Burbank."
Svengoolie also liked song parodies. For example, during the broadcast
of the slasher film I Saw What You Did," Koz changed the classic
Coasters' song "Yakety Yak" to "Hackety Hack."
The Son of Svengoolie program left the air in 1986. For a time in
1983, the program was syndicated to the cities of Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia
and San Francisco.
In 1995, the original "Svengoolie" Jerry Bishop gave Rich Koz permission to
lose the "Son of" and just use the "Svengoolie" name for his character. "Svengoolie"
now hosts a Saturday horror
feature on station WCIU-TV Channel 26 in Chicago. The show is still on the air as of 2007.
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