Bob "Hoolihan" Wells

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Bob "Hoolihan" Wells
Born Robert D. Wells
(1933-09-27) September 27, 1933 (age 81)
West Point, Nebraska, U.S.
Occupation Television personality, weatherman, disc jockey; owner, financial company, BW Financial Services
Years active 1951-1982
Spouse(s) Barbara (died in 2007)
Children Son Rob, daughters Teri and Tricia

Bob "Hoolihan" Wells (born September 27, 1933) is a former television and radio personality and actor, who is best known to Cleveland, Ohio television viewers for his appearances on the then-CBS affiliate WJW TV Channel 8 during the 1960s and 1970s as "Hoolihan the Weatherman"[1] and one-half of the Hoolihan and Big Chuck Show movie hosting team. Wells and partner Charles "Big Chuck" Schodowski replaced the former movie host, Ernie Anderson aka "Ghoulardi," in 1966 when Anderson left for Los Angeles to pursue a free-lance announcing and acting career.[2]

The Hoolihan and Big Chuck Show aired late Friday nights on WJW for 13 years from December 23, 1966[3] to August 1979, when Wells left the show and relocated to Florida.[4] After Wells' departure, Schodowski promoted cast member John "Lil' John" Rinaldi to co-host and the show continued for another 28 years as The Big Chuck and Lil' John Show.[5]

Early career[edit]

Wells started his broadcasting career in the summer of 1951 on KWBE radio in Beatrice, Nebraska, after graduating from high school in Lincoln, Nebraska.[6] That fall, Wells moved back to Lincoln to pursue studies in radio and television at the University of Nebraska. Between 1951 and his college graduation in 1957, he worked at Lincoln radio stations KLMS and KLIN,[7] was in the ROTC program, and took time off from his studies to train as a military jet pilot, later serving with the Nebraska Air National Guard.[6][8][9]

Upon finishing college in 1957, Wells joined KOCY in Oklahoma City as a radio announcer, moving two years later to WDAF, the NBC radio affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri.[10] Wells then transitioned to television, becoming a weekend weatherman and staff announcer at the sister NBC television station WDAF-TV in Kansas City, a job he held until 1965.[8][11][12]

Cleveland, Ohio years[edit]

In 1965, Wells moved to Cleveland to replace Howard Hoffman as the 6 and 11 PM evening weatherman on WJW-TV Channel 8, then the local CBS affiliate, as "Hoolihan the Weatherman." WJW management was seeking a "funny" weatherman to contrast with the "serious" style of other local weather presenters, including Dick Goddard of WKYC, Don Webster of WEWS, and the departing Hoffman. Wells got the job by dressing up in a grass skirt and improvising a humorous audition. Station management named him "Hoolihan the Weatherman" and the name stuck. Wells' presentations, which included jokes and always ended with "Hoolihan's" catch phrase "Sunshine to you, no matter what the weather," achieved #1 in the local ratings. Despite this success, a year later when WJW had the opportunity to hire Dick Goddard, the station gave Goddard the weeknight time slots and moved Wells to noon and weekend weathercasts. Wells was not happy with the change, but continued to do weekend weather at WJW until 1979.[8][12][2]

In addition to his weatherman duties, Wells appeared as a supporting cast member for WJW's popular late-night Friday show Shock Theatre with Ghoulardi, hosted by Ernie Anderson. When Anderson left WJW in late 1966, Wells teamed up with then-station engineer "Big Chuck" Schodowski to develop and host a replacement for Shock Theatre. The Hoolihan and Big Chuck Show premiered on December 23, 1966.[2] Airing at 11:30 p.m. on Friday nights, the show presented Z-grade movies with comedy skits in between featuring Wells, Schodowski, and cast members including Art Lofredo, Russ Cormier (as "Big Stash") and John "Lil' John" Rinaldi, plus occasional Hollywood guest stars.[13] The skits often focused on local or ethnic humor,[14] and usually ended in a recorded distinctive laugh by late actor/comedian/disc jockey Jay Lawrence, who worked for KYW-1100 radio in Cleveland in the early 1960s.[15] Hoolihan and Big Chuck quickly became the number one show in Cleveland on Friday nights, beating out Johnny Carson's Tonight Show[16] and eventually making so much money that station management refused to pre-empt or move the show for CBS network programming, even for a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game.[17] In 1971, Wells quit the staff of WJW to free-lance as an announcer in other cities such as New York, Chicago and Detroit, but still did weekend weather and the Hoolihan and Big Chuck Show.[18][8][19]

Wells and his wife Barbara became born-again Christians in the mid-70s, and Wells briefly managed a Parma, Ohio Christian radio station, WSUM (now WCCD).[20] In August 1979, Wells left Cleveland and moved to Florida to pursue a career in Christian broadcasting.[8][4][21] Schodowski replaced Wells with new co-host "Lil' John" Rinaldi and continued the Friday night show for another 28 years as The Big Chuck and Lil' John Show, finally ending in 2007 after a combined total run of 40 years.[5]

Later years[edit]

In 1979, Wells became program director of WCLF-TV channel 22, a Christian television station located in Largo, Florida and serving the Tampa Bay area. WCLF went on the air in October 1979 as the flagship station for the newly founded Christian Television Network, which aired programming such as The PTL Club and The 700 Club. Wells and his wife also co-hosted a Christian-themed interview, music and news program on WCLF called Horizons 22.[21][22] According to Wells, after a board member of WCLF objected to the show as lacking in spirituality, the show was cancelled and Wells and his wife were let go from WCLF after only three months.[8] Later, John Wesley Fletcher, a founding member of the board of WCLF,[23][22] was implicated in scandals involving PTL Club co-host Jim Bakker.[24] Wells has expressed relief that he and his wife were no longer involved with the station by that time.[8]

Wells went on to own and operate a financial planning company in Florida for 33 years. He also continued to do radio and TV commercial work, and has been active in local theater.[9] He has made regular appearances at "Ghoulardifest" functions in Cleveland, held in tribute to Ernie Anderson, who died in 1997.[25][26][27][28][29]

As of 2007, Wells was semi-retired and living in Clearwater, Florida, continuing his commercial, acting and community service work.[26]

Film and TV show appearances[edit]

Over the years, Wells appeared in several movies and TV shows, most notably Carl Reiner's 1985 movie Summer Rental starring John Candy, Richard Crenna and Rip Torn, which was filmed in the Tampa Bay area. Wells played the part of attorney "Stan Greene" and his wife Barbara appeared in two bit parts as a neighbor and a yacht club official.[8][30] Wells also appeared in the 1970 film Ghetto Freaks.[31]

Wells' TV roles include playing a TV reporter in the 1980 made-for-TV movie OHMS and a news anchor in a 1990 episode of the TV series Superboy entitled '"Abandon Earth".[32][33]

Personal life[edit]

In 1956, Wells married Barbara Leigh, who later became one of the first female disc jockeys in Cleveland on WJW-850 (now WKNR). They had three children, Teri, Rob and Tricia, and were married for 51 years until Barbara's death from cancer on August 28, 2007.[34][35][26]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Between 1966 and 1979, won several local Emmy awards as a cast member of The Hoolihan and Big Chuck Show [9][14]
  • Radio/Television Broadcasters' Hall of Fame of Ohio inductee (class of 2007) [36]
  • 2010 Cleveland Association of Broadcasters "Legend" Award [28]

Further reading[edit]

  • Feran, Tom, & Heldenfels, Rich (1999). Ghoulardi: Inside Cleveland TV's Wildest Ride. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Co. ISBN 978-1-886228-18-4.
  • Schodowski, Chuck (2008). Big Chuck: My Favorite Stories from 47 Years on Cleveland TV. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Co. ISBN 978-1-59851-052-2.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Goddard, Dick. Six Inches of Partly Cloudy: Cleveland's Legendary Meteorologist Takes On Everything - And More. Gray & Co., 2011, p.36. ISBN 978-1-59851-066-9.
  2. ^ a b c Schodowski, Chuck. Big Chuck!: My Favorite Stories from 47 Years on Cleveland TV. Gray & Company, 2008, p.87-89. ISBN 978-1-59851-052-2.
  3. ^ Schodowski, p.89
  4. ^ a b Schodowski, p.190.
  5. ^ a b Schodowski, p.192.
  6. ^ a b "The Weirdness Really Bad Movie Presents...A Conversation with Bob 'Hoolihan' Wells, Part One." Youtube video, 5:14. Posted by "David Binkley," Nov. 6, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rWTu03E8Is
  7. ^ Bundy, June. "Vox Jox." Billboard, Aug. 4, 1956, p. 75.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h http://www.clevelandseniors.com/people/hoolihan.htm, Debbie Hanson. "Bob 'Hoolihan' Wells: Sunshine to You - No Matter What the Weather." clevelandseniors.com, accessed on Mar. 4, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c https://www.linkedin.com/pub/bob-wells/12/911/1a6, Bob Wells, Linkedin profile, accessed on Mar. 4, 2015.
  10. ^ Bundy, June. "Vox Jox." Billboard, Dec. 7, 1959, p. 31.
  11. ^ http://www.bottomlinecom.com/wdaf-tv-celebrates-its-63-anniversary/, John Landsberg. "WDAF-TV Celebrates Its 63rd Anniversary." bottomlinecom.com, Oct. 17, 2012, accessed on Mar. 4, 2015.
  12. ^ a b "The Weirdness Really Bad Movie Presents...A Conversation with Bob 'Hoolihan' Wells, Part Two." Youtube video, 6:06. Posted by "David Binkley," Nov. 6, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spZyvnpIzyE
  13. ^ Schodowski, p. 90-91, 100-01, 158.
  14. ^ a b Hart, Ray. "Channel 8's Certain Ethnic Mastermind." Aug. 20, 1978, TV Closeup magazine section, p. 2.
  15. ^ Schodowski, p. 110-11.
  16. ^ Schodowski, p. 291.
  17. ^ Schodowski, p. 182-83.
  18. ^ Schodowski, p. 158.
  19. ^ "The Weirdness Really Bad Movie Presents...A Conversation with Bob 'Hoolihan' Wells, Part Four." Youtube video, 6:22. Posted by "David Binkley," Nov. 6, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMJtJuy-Ork
  20. ^ Hart, Ray. "Hoolihan's Other Partner." Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 28, 1978, TV Closeup magazine section p. 2.
  21. ^ a b "Hoolihan is Heading to Dixie," Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 24, 1979, p. 9C.
  22. ^ a b Pugh, Jeanne. "Nation's Newest Christian TV Station Begins Operations." St. Petersburg Times, Oct. 27, 1979, Crossroads magazine section p.1, 4-5.
  23. ^ "Gospel Television Coming to Suncoast." St. Petersburg Evening Independent, Apr. 28, 1979, p. 6A.
  24. ^ "Fletcher Says Bakker Bisexual." Gadsden (Alabama) Times, Dec. 5, 1988, p. A5.
  25. ^ http://www.theghoulardifest.com/Home_Page.php, The Big Chuck & Lil' John Ghoulardifest - Home Page, accessed Mar. 6, 2015.
  26. ^ a b c http://www.clevelandseniors.com/people/hoolihan-update.htm, Bob Wells. "Bob 'Hoolihan' Wells update." clevelandseniors.com, accessed Mar. 6, 2015.
  27. ^ http://www.cantonrep.com/article/20091004/News/310049937. "Ghoulardifest Returns to Cleveland Oct. 23-25." cantonrep.com, Oct. 4, 2009, accessed Mar. 6, 2015.
  28. ^ a b http://www.ohio.com/ghoulardifest-2010-details-1.262138, Ghoulardifest 2010 Details, ohio.com, Oct. 4, 2010, accessed Mar. 7, 2015.
  29. ^ http://www.cleveland.com/brooklyn/index.ssf/2013/10/post_12.html, Mark Holan. "Hey, Group! Brooklyn is the Site of This Year's Ghoulardifest Nov. 1-3." cleveland.com, Oct. 9, 2013, accessed Mar. 6, 2015.
  30. ^ http://www.tvguide.com/movies/summer-rental-119376/cast/, "Summer Rental - 1985 Movie - Cast & Crew", tvguide.com, accessed Mar. 6, 2015.
  31. ^ Weldon, Michael J. The Psychotronic Video Guide. St. Martin's Press, 1996, p. 342. ISBN 0-312-13149-6.
  32. ^ Strassmeyer, Mary. "Mary, Mary: Tribe Book Should Be a Big Hit." Cleveland Plain Dealer, Feb. 16, 1990, p. 10B.
  33. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0713418/?ref_=ttep_ep6, Superboy: Season 2, Episode 18, "Abandon Earth" (17 Feb. 1990), imdb.com, accessed Mar. 6, 2015.
  34. ^ http://sylvan.tributes.com/our_obituaries/Barbara-L.-Wells-84750972, "Wells, Barbara L. (1934-2007)." August 2007, accessed Mar. 5, 2015.
  35. ^ http://ohiomedia.blogspot.com/2007/09/passings.html, "'Hoolihan's' Wife Passes On." Sept. 23, 2007, accessed Mar. 5, 2015.
  36. ^ http://blog.cleveland.com/entertainment/2007/09/stefani_schaefer_returns_home.html, Julie E. Washington. "Stefani Schaefer Returns Home After Stint on NBC's 'iVillage'." cleveland.com, Sept. 20, 2007, accessed Mar. 7, 2015.

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