Rich Koz as Son of Svengoolie
|Also known as||
|Genre||Horror / Science-fiction / Comedy|
|Format||Horror hosted show|
|Directed by||Chris M. Faulkner|
|Presented by||Rich Koz|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||31|
|No. of episodes||680|
|Executive producer(s)||Rich Koz|
|Producer(s)||Chris M. Faulkner|
|Editor(s)||Chris M. Faulkner|
|Location(s)||Chicago, Illinois, USA|
|Camera setup||Malcom Conyers|
|Running time||120 minutes|
|Production company(s)||U-City Productions|
|Original run||September 18, 1970– present|
|Official Svengoolie website|
Svengoolie is a hosted horror movie show. The title is taken from the character that hosts the program. The show has been a long-running local TV program in the Chicago area, and has in recent years been seen nationally hosting the Saturday night movie on Me-TV.
The shows air various (and often low-budget) horror and science-fiction movies, hosted by horror host "Svengoolie" (a play on the word Svengali), currently played by Rich Koz, who wears face makeup, a wig, and top hat. Just before, and just after, commercial breaks in the film, the character presents various sketches, tells corny jokes, and presents song parodies spoofing the film being aired. Some shows were even presented in what was later dubbed "Sven-surround" (a pun of "Sensurround") in which Svengoolie would make jokes as the film aired (similarly to MST3K); but, sound effects would be played over the movie, as well. This was discontinued for a short time, but brought back due to viewer request—though only as a clip segment aired outside the actual film, not as the previously-done over-dub.
In August 2006, it was announced that WCIU obtained broadcast rights to the classic Universal Monsters films of the 1930s and 1940s. These films had been requested since Svengoolie aired in the 1980s. By December 2006, the show had featured four of the Abbott and Costello "Meet" series, with the Universal Studio Monsters, and several Hammer Film Productions, which had been distributed by Universal-International. On May 5, 2007, Svengoolie presented a show featuring Bela Lugosi's Dracula (1931), which he claimed to be the first time the movie has been shown on local television in over a decade.
The show opens with a reference to early radio broadcasting: "Calling all stations, clear the air lanes, clear all air lanes for the big broadcast." A running gag throughout the series is the repeated utterance of the word "Berwyn", the name of a Chicago suburb. (This was a parody of the way "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" and Johnny Carson would jokingly refer to "Beautiful Downtown Burbank.") Another recurring gag involves rubber chickens being thrown at Svengoolie after a cornier-than-usual joke—usually at the end of each episode's closing sketch. Visitors assist the crew with throwing rubber chickens during the filming of the show.
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 potrayed by Jerry G. Bishop when the show aired from 1970 to 1973. When the show returned in 1979, the role was taken over by Rich Koz, who plays the part to the present day.
Doug Graves is the musician who plays the piano for Svengoolie's songs. The part of Graves is played by real-life musician and crew member, Doug Scharf.
Zallman T. Tombstone is a disembodied skull that typically has a humorous skit in each episode. Rich Koz plays the part of Tombstone.
Kerwyn, whose name sounds like Berwyn, is a smart alec rubber chicken that helps Svengoolie read the viewer mail. As with most characters on the show, Kerwyn is voiced by Rich Koz.
Durwood the Dummy is a wooden ventriloquist's dummy from the original show in 1970. Rich Koz plays the voice of Durwood.
Rich Koz did most of the artwork for the show when he restarted it as Son of Svengoolie at WFLD. For each episode, Koz researches the film to find interesting facts, then writes each episode himself, usually spending about 4 hours writing.
The different camera shots and audio effects are handled by the director, Chris Faulkner, and Kevin Reisberg, the assistant director.
The show's original title was Screaming Yellow Theater with host Svengoolie. It wasn't until the show was rivived that the show title and host's name were one and the same. It debuted on September 18, 1970 on WFLD (Channel 32) and ran until late-summer 1973. Svengoolie was played in this series by Jerry G. Bishop. In later seasons, Rich Koz—a fan of the show who used to send in sketch ideas—became one of the show's writers. In 1973, Kaiser Broadcasting took over WFLD from Field Communications and Screaming Yellow Theater was cancelled and replaced with The Ghoul from Cleveland. The Ghoul only lasted until 1974 before it was taken off the air. Field Communications took WFLD back from Kaiser Broadcasting in 1978, which led Jerry Bishop and Rich Koz to discuss the show's resurrection.
On June 16, 1979, Son of Svengoolie debuted on WFLD, with Koz in the title role. The show also aired briefly on other sister (i.e., Field Communications-controlled) stations in Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, and Detroit. This series ran until WFLD (at that time owned by Metromedia) was sold to Rupert Murdoch's Fox Television Stations Group in 1986 to become a part of the newly-created Fox network. The new management canceled the show after deciding it was not an appropriate fit for their new programming direction. After 334 shows, the final episode aired January 25, 1986. Koz later returned to WFLD in various capacities, mainly as the host of its Fox Kids Club and The Koz Zone weekday afternoon children's programming, even appearing as an announcer on the Fox network's 1988 New Year's Eve broadcast.
Neal Sabin, the executive vice president of Weigel Broadcasting, brought the show back to the air on December 31, 1994 on WCIU (Channel 26), using just "Svengoolie" as its name; Koz took over the role of Svengoolie when Bishop told Koz that he "believed he was grown up enough now to no longer be just the Son." Koz also hosts a weekly Three Stooges Stooge-a-palooza show on WCIU.
The series also airs on Chicago's WWME-CA ("ME-TV"), Milwaukee stations WBME-CD and WMLW-TV, and occasionally on WMYS-LP in South Bend, Indiana. All of these stations are owned by Weigel Broadcasting. Beginning on April 2, 2011, Svengoolie's show also became available nationally on the Me-TV network through the efforts of Neal Sabin.
Between 1979 and 1986, the Son of Svengoolie won three Chicago Emmys while it was on station WFLD. For its 25th anniversary in 2004, Svengoolie was presented with the Silver Circle Award by the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for "outstanding contributions to Chicago television."
Svengoolie is visible as an easter egg in the Justice League graphic novel JLA: Liberty and Justice, where he is shown on a security monitor in Arkham Asylum as a patient alongside The Joker, Two-Face and The Riddler.
- Serrano, Elliott (December 31, 2008). "Fun for all the boys and 'gools', 'Svengoolie' a staple for B-Grade horror movie fans". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois, USA: Tony W. Hunter). ISSN 1085-6706. OCLC 60639020. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Johnson, Steve (February 1, 1997). ""Sventennial": Before there was Joe Bob Briggs, before...". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois, USA: Tony W. Hunter). ISSN 1085-6706. OCLC 60639020. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Hageman, William (April 01, 2011). "Svengoolie scares up a national show". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois, USA: Tony W. Hunter). ISSN 1085-6706. OCLC 60639020. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Watson, Elena M. (November 1, 2000). Television Horror Movie Hosts: 68 Vampires, Mad Scientists and Other Denizens of the Late-Night Airwaves Examined and Interviewed (reprint, illustrated ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company. ISBN 9780786409402. OCLC 44693959. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Darnall, Steve (June 18, 2004). "25 years of Svengoolie's humor, Television academy honors Rich Koz with Silver Circle Award". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois, USA: Tony W. Hunter). ISSN 1085-6706. OCLC 60639020. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Herguth, Bob (December 5, 1994). "Rich Koz". Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago, Illinois, USA: Tim Knight). p. 26. ISSN 1553-8478. OCLC 51500916. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Stach, Chris (October 30, 2007). "Horror story, Love of classic flicks and comedy result in soon-to-be-published book about horror shows on Chicago TV". Riverside Brookfield Landmark (Oak Park, Illinois, USA: Wednesday Journal). OCLC 40109363. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Okuda, Ted; Yurkiw, Mark (December 4, 2007). Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie (illustrated ed.). Chicago, Illinois, USA: Lake Claremont Press. ISBN 9781893121133. OCLC 123378830. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Glut, Donald F. (July 24, 2012). Shock Theatre Chicago Style: WBKB-TV's Late Night Horror Showcase, 1957-1959. Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company. p. 170. ISBN 9780786468058. OCLC 757462047. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Official website
- Svengoolie at the Internet Movie Database
- Jerry G. Bishop at the Internet Movie Database
- Rich Koz at the Internet Movie Database
- Svengoolie at HorrorHosts.com
- Svengoolie is coming...(to L.A.)
- Svengoolie Nation website