Zacherley (a.k.a. "Ro-Land") - A ghoulish East
coast horror show host who first debuted on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia in the early
1950s, Zacherley was the showbiz pseudonym of actor John Zacherle born in
Philadelphia on September 27, 1919.
Zacherley grew up in the Germantown section of the city. He
attended Germantown High School and later the University of
Pennsylvania where he earned a degree in English Literature.
When John Zacherle was offered the part to host a series of late night horror
flicks, he transformed himself into "Ro-LAND," the vampire host of channel 10's
Shock Theatre. He previously appeared on the live western series ACTION IN THE
AFTERNOON as an undertaker.
As Philadelphia's first horror show host, Zacherle presided over a cast of
regulars including his wife, "My Dear" (she became Isabel on WABC) who lived in
a coffin , an assistant named Igor, Gasport, Roland's son, a prehistoric
protoplasm, and a bunch of
dolls which he zapped with an electrical prod. He later recreated his role under
the name "Zacherley" for New York station WABC-TV on September 22, 1958.
Creating a world of cobwebs, bubbling cauldrons, shrunken heads and other
Transylvanian tidbits, Zacherley ("The Cool Ghoul") became a
late night favorite. Zacherle was one of the first TV Horror Hosts to insert
himself into the actual film that was airing on his show. The first time it
occurred during an airing of "The Black Cat with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi" Rival stations imitated this successful format. One of his
West coast counterparts was a young lady who called herself Vampira.
An article about Zacherle entitled "T.V.'s Midnight Madness" appeared in the
August 16, 1958, issue of Saturday Evening Post. Zach also appeared in
the spring 1959 issue #4 of Famous Monsters of Filmland. In 1959 Zacherle
had a top ten hit with the novelty song "Dinner With Drac."
John Zacherle Horror
In the 1960s and 1970s John Zacherle worked as a disk jockey at WNEW-FM and
WPLJ-FM. He left radio in 1979 to pursue acting again. Zacherle reprised his
horror show host role in Philadelphia on Channel 10's "Return of Roland."
special in October of 1985 and later on May 3, 1987, when he guest-starred with
"Stella, Maneater from Manayunk" who hosted her own late night program Saturday
Night Dead on Channel 3. See also "Elvira, Mistress of the
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