Dr. Shock

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Joseph Zawislak
(a.k.a. "Dr. Shock")
Dr. Shock Philadelphia Horror Host 1970 Promotion Image.gif
1970 promo picture
Born
Joseph Zawislak

OccupationTelevision horror movie presenter host
Years active1969-1979
Known forScream-In, Mad Theater and Horror Theater (host)

Dr. Shock was a prominent 1970s fictional character, appearing on television as a horror host presenter, that was created and portrayed by magician Joseph Zawislak. The character was created as an on-air host for the broadcast of B-rated horror movies for Philadelphia WPHL-TV Channel 17 that included three different show titles during his career: Scream-In, Mad Theater and Horror Theater. Dr. Shock, whose sign-off, "Let there be fright!", became a mantra for legions of school-age fans in Philadelphia for this local beloved celebrity, Fredy Benton a young comedy writer and impressionist worked with Dr shock in the early days said the horror host performed the original version of the rubber chicken gag later made popular by Svengoolie. [1]

History[edit]

Joseph Zawislak created his Dr. Shock persona based on Roland, with actor John Zacherle's permission, who previously appeared on Philadelphia television. The character Dr. Shock first aired on WPHL-TV on March 7, 1970, with the broadcast of 1963's Diary of a Madman. His first show lasted 13 weeks, but a protest march and 10,000 letters from angry fans put him back on the air, but required major show format changes.[1] Three different shows were hosted during his career span titled Scream-In, Mad Theater and Horror Theater.

The character he played was costumed as a lively zombie with slicked-down hair, a black frock coat and white spats, assisted in his laboratory by a one-eyed hunchback named Boris. His usual entrance was from inside a coffin. In the revised format, he brought on his nine-month old daughter Doreen in 1969 and named her "Bubbles" for the show's sponsor, Bubbles-Booth soda. This softened Dr. Shock's Count Dracula image and the toddler grew up on the air, along with his fans.

Biography[edit]

He was a resident of Roxborough, a neighborhood in Philadelphia, a devoted amateur magician, a deli worker, an insurance salesman, a pinball arcade manager, a gas cylinder truck driver, then a horror host. Suddenly, after 10 years of performing, he died of a heart attack in 1979 at the young age of 42.

Further reading[edit]

  • Skerchock, John (2009), The Frightful Dr. Shock, Michael Enoches, ISBN 978-0984082827

References[edit]

External links[edit]