Mark J. Price
Cleveland horror host Ghoulardi had a legion of devoted fans in the 1960s.
Beacon Journal television critic Dick Shippy wasn’t 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 8’s Shock Theater, which aired on Friday nights from 1963 to 1966.
Shippy (1927-2010), whose sarcastic wit was a fixture of the Sunday column “Dick Shippy’s Mailbag,” seldom missed an opportunity to zing Ghoulardi.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Anderson’s move from Cleveland to Los Angeles, where he found national fame and fortune as the voice of ABC-TV.
To commemorate the occasion, we’ve raided Shippy’s 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 “Shock Theater” 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, he’s 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 “Shock Theater” to see our hated and despised leader, Ghoulardi. (Let’s face it: the movies are “cheap”) … Our hated and despised leader heads the Sill branch of the Ghoulgateers and we now make you an honorary member (you’re already hated and despised). Like Ghoulardi says, “Stay sick.” R.W., Cuyahoga Falls.
A: Have you noticed Ghoulardi spells his name Goulardi? I don’t want to join any club whose hated and despised leader can’t spell. (May 1, 1963)
Q: I’ve 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. He’s 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 don’t 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 wasn’t 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 don’t 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 aren’t trying to prove to you that Ghoulardi is intellectual or talented. Let’s face it, if Ghoulardi were intellectual entertainment, we wouldn’t be watching him. We don’t 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 aren’t 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. You’re saying that teenagers are a mystery because they enjoy performers with no talent. I bet you can’t 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 I’ve one question: If you dislike Ghoulardi so, why do you print anything about him at all? I don’t like the guy and I don’t like to read about him. In case you’re wondering, I am a teenager, but Ghoul Boy isn’t my type. SALLY N., Barberton.
A: If you won’t mention that person, I won’t. (Sept. 1, 1963)
Q: By now, I thought Ghoulardi’s 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 ’64 or ’65 his name will be forgotten and a thing of the past. LARI LaBELLE, Akron.
A: If you’re 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 Douglas’ vocal cords. Yet, not 45 seconds before were the people who were yelling the loudest grumbling the strongest. Fair weather affection, don’t you think? YOUNG MOTHER, Akron.
A: Right. It’s something like sitting in the ballpark and complaining because the Washington Senators haven’t taken the field, then cheering when they do. (Nov. 17, 1963)
Q: I don’t see why you don’t like Ghoulardi. Everyone in northern Ohio loves him. Why don’t you give him a chance? Just because he wears silly clothes and does some silly stuff doesn’t mean you have to be against him. J.K., Akron.
A: Now that’s 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 ABC’s Rango). You’re 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.