Mark J. Price

Cleveland horror host Ghoulardi had a legion of devoted fans in the 1960s.

Beacon Journal television critic Dick Shippy wasnít one of them.

Donning a fright wig, lab coat and black goatee, Ernie Anderson (1923-1997) delighted kids as the irreverent character Ghoulardi on WJW-TV 8ís Shock Theater, which aired on Friday nights from 1963 to 1966.

Shippy (1927-2010), whose sarcastic wit was a fixture of the Sunday column ďDick Shippyís Mailbag,Ē seldom missed an opportunity to zing Ghoulardi.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Andersonís move from Cleveland to Los Angeles, where he found national fame and fortune as the voice of ABC-TV.

To commemorate the occasion, weíve raided Shippyís old mailbag for some memorable letters about Ghoulardi. Hey, group, enjoy the reruns. Stay sick. Turn blue.

Q: Would you please tell me the name of the man who hosts the ďShock TheaterĒ on Channel 8 on Friday nights? What is his real name, his line of work and the name he goes by on this particular program. I enjoy him very much. RONALD ZBORY, Barberton

A: I assume you mean the guy who spends every Friday night with his chin propped on a flashlight. His name is Ernie Anderson, heís called Ghoulardi on Friday nights and nobody knows his line of work. (March 3, 1963)

Q: We would like to know where we could write to Ghoulardi because we are going to send him something. CHERYL AND DEBBIE, Akron.

A: A gag, I trust. Write to him at WJW-TV, 1630 Euclid av., Cleveland, 15. (April 7, 1963)

Q: I am a Ghoulgateer and members of our club watch ďShock TheaterĒ to see our hated and despised leader, Ghoulardi. (Letís face it: the movies are ďcheapĒ) Ö Our hated and despised leader heads the Sill branch of the Ghoulgateers and we now make you an honorary member (youíre already hated and despised). Like Ghoulardi says, ďStay sick.Ē R.W., Cuyahoga Falls.

A: Have you noticed Ghoulardi spells his name Goulardi? I donít want to join any club whose hated and despised leader canít spell. (May 1, 1963)

Q: Iíve read your column and I want to know where I can get some information on Ghoulardi. I am making a book report on him in a week and a half. B. SCOTT, New Milford.

A: Obviously they are a lot more lenient about book reports than they used to be. I can remember a time when the teacher refused to accept my book report on Ducky Medwick. For information, write to Ernie Anderson in care of WJW, 1630 Euclid av., Cleveland 15. Heís well acquainted with the cretin in question. (May 12, 1963)

Q: You are a genuine purple knif [fink backwards]. Give me one good reason why you donít like Ghoulardi. All the teens in Northern Ohio just adore him. I wish you so-called adults would quit trying to cram educational programs on TV. We get enough of that nine months of the year, six hours a day! If Ghoulardi wasnít on TV Friday nights, 95 percent of the kids that stay home would be out on the streets. So cool it with the slamming bit and turn blue. S.L.O., Akron.

A: Kid, you donít give us much choice: Ghoulardi, or you go out on the street. That sounds like anarchy. Also like an argument for the 12-month school year. (July 14, 1963)

Q: Who said Ghoulardi was intellectual entertainment? No one! We teenagers arenít trying to prove to you that Ghoulardi is intellectual or talented. Letís face it, if Ghoulardi were intellectual entertainment, we wouldnít be watching him. We donít enjoy his program because of his intellect or his talent. We watch him because we like him. Why do we like him? Personality! I realize this is hard for you to comprehend. I understand your point of view. You are an adult, and therefore you have adult interests. Ghoulardi is not meant for adults, and you arenít expected to enjoy him. We, as teenagers, have teenage interests, and for most of us, Ghoulardi is one of these. I eagerly await your sarcasm. A.O., Akron.

A: I understand your point of view. Youíre saying that teenagers are a mystery because they enjoy performers with no talent. I bet you canít wait to become an adult so you can stop suffering. (July 28, 1963)

Q: I read your column every week and usually enjoy it. But Iíve one question: If you dislike Ghoulardi so, why do you print anything about him at all? I donít like the guy and I donít like to read about him. In case youíre wondering, I am a teenager, but Ghoul Boy isnít my type. SALLY N., Barberton.

A: If you wonít mention that person, I wonít. (Sept. 1, 1963)

Q: By now, I thought Ghoulardiís welcome would have been worn out. He has pushed his tiring and leering face on the television screen for so long that his shenanigans should come to a halt sooner or later. His useless pace could end and Channel 8 would be better off. Ghoulardi is like too much cake: You get sick by having too much. I hope by í64 or í65 his name will be forgotten and a thing of the past. LARI LaBELLE, Akron.

A: If youíre willing to wait that long. (Nov. 17, 1963)

Q: Recently when I took my kids to Lakemore Plaza to see Ghoulardi, it brought a thought to my mind. Even though he was over 45 minutes late, he got a reception that would curl Mike Douglasí vocal cords. Yet, not 45 seconds before were the people who were yelling the loudest grumbling the strongest. Fair weather affection, donít you think? YOUNG MOTHER, Akron.

A: Right. Itís something like sitting in the ballpark and complaining because the Washington Senators havenít taken the field, then cheering when they do. (Nov. 17, 1963)

Q: I donít see why you donít like Ghoulardi. Everyone in northern Ohio loves him. Why donít you give him a chance? Just because he wears silly clothes and does some silly stuff doesnít mean you have to be against him. J.K., Akron.

A: Now thatís the way questions should be asked: so no answer is necessary. (Feb. 9, 1964)

Q: What happened to Ghoulardi? M.K., Akron.

A: Ernie Anderson (Ghoulardi) now is haunting the West Coast where he does television work (including some scheduled appearances on ABCís Rango). Youíre not having withdrawal pains, are you? (Feb. 9, 1967)

Copy editor Mark J. Price is the author of the book Lost Akron from The History Press. He can be reached at 330-996-3850 or mjprice@thebeaconjournal.com.