Dr. Shock

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Joseph Zawislak
(aka "Dr. Shock")
Dr. Shock Philadelphia Horror Host 1970 Promotion Image.gif
1970 Promo Picture
Born Joseph Zawislak
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupation Television horror movie presenter host
Years active 1969-1979
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.[1]


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 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.

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