Creature Feature (WTOG)

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For wrestling manager, see Paul Bearer.

Creature Feature was a TV horror movie series on WTOG in St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1973 to 1995. The films were hosted by Dick Bennick Sr. (November 3, 1928 - February 18, 1995) as Dr. Paul Bearer, who hosted a different cheap horror film every Saturday afternoon. Bennick created the character at WGHP in High Point, North Carolina for the station's Shock Theater in the mid-to-late 1960s after his previous persona, Count Shockula, proved less than satisfactory.

The humorous Bearer character was a pun-spewing, bad-joke-telling host who spoke in a gravelly voice with a halting speech pattern. His usual attire was a long-tailed vintage tuxedo with his hair parted down the middle and slicked straight down the sides, with heavy mascara and grease paint. His skewed gaze, which Bennick perfected by turning his one artificial eye outward, only contributed to the atmosphere. He also twisted around some words and names to reflect the horror atmosphere—he frequently called the horror films "horrible old movies", and the city that WTOG's studios were based in "St. Creaturesburg".

One typical joke started with a close up of a hammer in Paul's hand. He strikes a package of Wrigley's Spearmint gum several times with the hammer, then looks up at the camera and says "I'm just sitting here, beating my gums." Bearer also aired occasional novelty songs, such as Tom Lehrer's "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park," to which he would often lip-sync while pretending to accompany himself on a matte-black-painted baby grand piano.

He also participated in the city's annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, riding in or on top of a vintage Cadillac hearse as part of the station's promotion.

His trademark signoff was "I'll be lurking for you."

The series ended in 1995 following the death of Bennick, after his open heart surgery.

He gained a measure of national notoriety as the longest-running horror host on television,[1] [2] and in 1993, then-Tampa mayor Sandy Freedman declared October 30 "Dr. Paul Bearer Day".[3]

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