(aka "Dr. Shock")
1970 Promo Picture
|Occupation||Television horror movie presenter host|
|Known for||Scream-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 Channel 17 TV that included three different shows titles during his career of 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.
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. 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 9 month old toddler daughter Doreen in 1969 and named her "Bubbles" for the show's sponsor, Bubbles-Booth soda. This softened the Dr. Shock's Count Dracula image and the toddler on air grew up along with his fans.
He was a resident of Roxborough, a neighborhood in Philadelphia, a devoted amateur magician, a deli worker, insurance salesman, a pinball arcade manager,gas cylinder truck driver, then Horror Host. Suddenly, after ten years of performing, he died of a heart attack in 1979 at the young age of 42 years.