RIP Svengoolie aka Jerry Bishop


The Midwest horror scene has lost another television icon. Jerry Bishop, better known to the Chicago area as Svengoolie, host of Screaming Yellow Theater on WFLD Channel 32 has passed away at the age of 77.

Screaming Yellow Theater was a midnight horror feature show that ran from 1970 to 1973 in Chicago that developed a cult following with rabid legions of fans that survive even to this.

“He was making really creative TV on almost no budget,” said Wally Podrazik, curator at Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications. “I’d call Jerry G. Bishop the master of the non sequitur and running gag. Not just as Svengoolie, but as a radio DJ with a superb timing and a sense of unabashed silliness.”

Bishop moved to San Diego in 1978 to host the “Sun Up San Diego” weekday morning talk show and won three Emmy awards in his 13 years as host.

Bishop’s daughter, Melissa Moore, said she loved watching her father’s show as a child. “A lot of that shtick was improvised, and I know he was really proud of that,” Moore said. “He had a natural silliness that made it work. I watch it today, and it still makes me laugh.”

Though proud of Svengoolie and “Sun Up San Diego,” Koz said, Bishop referred to the 1960s as a “magical time” in radio. “Talented DJs were given the time and freedom to do entertaining comedy that stricter formats no longer allow,” Koz said.

From the Wikipedia page: Svengoolie, the titular character of the show, is the host that introduces the film, tells jokes and relates factoids about the movie. The character was originally portrayed by Jerry G. Bishop, from 1970 to 1973. When the show returned in 1979, the role was taken up by Rich Koz, who plays the part today.

Doug Graves plays the piano for Svengoolie’s songs. The part of Graves is played by musician and crew member, Doug Scharf.

Zallman T. Tombstone is a disembodied skull that does a humorous skit in each episode. Rich Koz plays Tombstone.

Kerwyn, whose name rhymes with Berwyn, is a smart alec rubber chicken who helps Svengoolie read viewer mail. As with most characters, Kerwyn is voiced by Rich Koz.

Durwood the Dummy is a wooden ventriloquist’s dummy from the original show of 1970. Rich Koz is the voice of Durwood.

Recently the mid-west lost another famed horror host and colleague of Svengoolie, Sammy Terry. Both acts have been taken up, with the blessings of the originators, by new actors who carry on the horror host legacy.

Source: The Chicago Tribune

1 Comment

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      1. bob101910 September 19, 2013 at 12:59 am

        I never saw him on TV because I’m too young, but if it wasn’t for him, I would not have seen the newer version of the show. I might not even like horror movies if it wasn’t for Svengoolie. He will be missed.