Friday, October 31, 2008

Bestoink Dooley, Dr. Shock & Dingbat

I've gone on before how comic books and monster magazines kept me from growing up. It's true, though. I remain, at heart, an eight-year-old kid who loves to read Steve Ditko comics, peruse Forry Ackerman's awful puns in Famous Monsters Magazine, and dream about dinosaurs duking it out with King Kong on Skull Island. There's nothin' I can do about it. The Wolfman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon ruined me. Among the pusher men who dealt the fantastic to me, and to tens of thousands of other like-minded kids, were the many evening hours horror hosts of America's TV stations in the '60s and '70s.

During those days, local TV stations fell over one another to create horror movie hosts. These guys introduced the late night monster flicks that aired, generally on weekends when kids like me could stay up into the wee hours hoping to be scared shitless. Bestoink Dooley was the weirdo who dished the grue in Atlanta Gee Ay. I really liked him. He was famous throughout the Atlanta area, and had to be just about the most popular cat in town. At least to me and my pals in grade school. Years later, when he owned and operated a repertoire cinema in Buckhead (a downtown Atlanta neighborhood), I heard that he didn't like to be identified with his old role. But whenever I'd walk into that movie house to view some obscure foreign film and see him, I know he'd see the little kid shock on my face as I recognized him not as George Ellis, but as the horror film host of Channel Five's "Big Movie Shocker". Man, those were the days!

Later, after we'd moved first to Macon Gee Ay and then to a small, weird village in the mountains of north Georgia (Ellijay), Bestoink Dooley had become a faded memory as I entered my teens. I still enjoyed horror movies, but we lived in the woods (I mean seriously in the woods--the nearest neighbor was two and a half
miles away), and TV reception was hit or miss. The station that we could receive best had Dr. Shock, host of the aptly named "Shock Theater". The best thing about old Shock was that he had a puppet sidekick named Dingbat who spilled out terrible puns (just like Forry!), and who spoke in a wonderful, exaggerated southern accent. By then, I think I watched the movies just to see Dr. Shock and Dingbat introduce them and to listen to their banter between commercial breaks.

Dr. Shock and Dingbat.

At any rate, here's to the great horror hosts of my youth! I thought that these crazy bastards would be a good subject for my 400th post as a blogger.

And here's a
great website about local TV horror hosts! Find the ones you recall from your days as a kid sitting in front of the glass teat.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Same link I have, Bob. For a time, Harry and I had thought about buying some time on this cable access show (Channel 17 still shows some of the weirdest shit you'd see here), with the hook being that Harry was a movie host, wearing a black turtleneck, but I'd be a vestigial twin, my face sticking out of his left armpit Marty Feldman-like. It was a thought, and certainly Svengoolie and Zacharly and your guys are all missed. I wish we had them again, the current Sven, while a nice guy, is pretty much just showing the same ten films over again and the time keeps varying.

HemlockMan said...

There are enough public domain monster flicks that you could do a cable access horror host show. I'm sure of it.

Yeah, the deal with your face poking out like a demented comedian would have been funny, for damned sure.

Mark Rainey said...

MeTV runs Svenghouli on the weekends now, which is kind of fun — it very much captures the original Chicago show. (BERWYN????) I catch it now and again; tomorrow night is THE INVISIBLE RAY, which I'm not sure I've ever even seen. Might watch it, if I'm in the mood.

As a kid, we had Shock Theater on WGHP out of High Point. Don't remember the host very well. I was an old man by the time Count Gore de Vol came round, but he was kinda fun too, back when he was on WDCA channel 20 out of DC.

James Robert Smith said...

I have actually considered getting RID of cable so that I can watch MeTV which is free.