March 12, 1952
Park Ridge, Illinois, USA
Rich Koz (born March 12, 1952) is a Chicago area actor and broadcaster best known as horror-movie host Svengoolie. Out of costume, he is also the knowledgeable host of the syndicated The Three Stooges Stooge-a-Palooza program.
Koz got his start in broadcasting at WMTH-FM, the high school radio station at Maine East in Park Ridge, Illinois. While Koz was at Northwestern University, he sent the original Svengoolie, Jerry G. Bishop, material for the horror-movie program. Bishop subsequently invited Koz on to the show. When the show was cancelled in 1973, Bishop and Koz worked together doing mornings on WMAQ radio in Chicago, and Koz worked with radio legend Dick Orkin on commercials and syndicated features, including "ChickenMan Returns for the Last Time Again." When Bishop left for San Diego in 1978, he gave Koz permission to create a show known as Son of Svengoolie, now simply known as Svengoolie. (The character is often known simply as "Sven.")
Son of Svengoolie
In June 1979, on WFLD-TV Ch. 32, Koz began as Son of Svengoolie, winning numerous local Emmy awards, and having his show syndicated to Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, and San Francisco for a brief period. In 1986, after the station was acquired by the News Corporation, WFLD cancelled Svengoolie, believing the show not dignified for a network affiliate. Koz did some freelance radio, including stints as a fill-in at WGN radio.
The Koz Zone
From 1989 to 1993, Koz returned to WFLD (now "Fox 32") to host a new hosted movie show where he appeared to be "breaking in" to the Fox signal (a take-off of an actual event where WGN and WTTW had their signals pirated). The show was originally untitled, but viewers were asked to address letters to "Lose Weight by Selling Real Estate, No Money Down" until the show adopted the name The Koz Zone. This show won Koz his next local Emmy, and later became the daily Koz Zone for Kids. Koz also did mornings on WCKG radio for a brief period, co-hosted live 4 July and New Year's Eve programming, and became weekend and fill-in weather anchor for Fox 32 News.
In 1995, Koz came back on the air as part of the launch team for newly independent station WCIU-TV, Channel 26. He became Svengoolie (after Jerry G. Bishop told him he could drop the "Son of" because he was "all grown up now") and resumed weekly horror movie shows, along with numerous other duties. Koz is now well known and well regarded in the Chicago area, having won numerous regional Emmy awards and having been admitted to the NATAS/Emmy "Silver Circle" for "outstanding contributions to Chicago television." Beginning in 2011, Koz began to be seen nationwide when his show became a regular Saturday night staple on the MeTV classic TV network, and began his sixth season on MeTV in autumn 2016.
In his Son of Svengoolie persona, Rich Koz is also known for the early '80s 3-D broadcast of Revenge of the Creature (the sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon) that resulted in a civil action lawsuit by people who felt they didn't get enough 3-D for the 89 cents they spent for the cardboard glasses. Rumors that the broadcast included an accidental pornographic image are false.
Koz makes numerous personal appearances in the Chicago area.
In November 2012, Koz suffered a heart attack at his home. He previously had been stricken by an earlier heart attack in March 2002.
- Foster, Stella (March 11, 2008). "College tour". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 42.
- Camenson, Blythe; Jan Goldberg (1999). Real People Working in Entertainment. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-8442-6570-4.
- ‘Svengoolie’ host Rich Koz recovering from heart attack