Ron Sweed

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Ron Sweed
The Ghoul (3921778580).jpg
Promotional poster from a 1970s live appearance featuring Sweed as The Ghoul
Born(1949-01-23)January 23, 1949
DiedApril 1, 2019(2019-04-01) (aged 70)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Alma materBowling Green State University
Years active1963–2019
  • Barbara J. King (m. ????–????)
  • Mary Therese Matousek (m. (c.)1993–2019)[1]

Ronald D. Sweed (January 23, 1949 – April 1, 2019) was an American entertainer and author, known for his late-night television horror host character "The Ghoul".

Early life and career[edit]

Sweed was born on January 23, 1949, in Euclid, Ohio.[2] His mother is Irene Barnard.[3] His father was Robert Sweed.[1] He grew up in Cleveland.[4] In an interview with his mother, Metro Times reporter Anita Schmaltz asked, "Did you ever expect to give birth to a Ghoul?" She responded, "Ron was very different right from the time he came out of the chute."[3] Sweed was 3 or 4 when he went to downtown Cleveland with his grandfather to see Santa Claus and buy him a Christmas present. He picked out a puppet. When Sweed was 8 or 9, he was given marionettes.[3] Sweed would put on shows for the neighborhood kids with the marionettes. His fourth grade teacher at one time could not keep his attention. Every Wednesday Sweed would put on a show for the class with his Jerry Mahoney dummy.[3]

In 1963, 13-year-old Sweed and his friends went to an afternoon matinee of "Dr. Silkini and his live stage show of horrors, on stage in person, the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, King Kong and 45 horror movies".[3] On the way home, he found a gorilla suit in an open trunk of Silkini's. He wore the gorilla suit to a live appearance by Ghoulardi, a popular Cleveland television personality played by Ernie Anderson on WJW. Ghoulardi took note of the costume and brought Sweed on stage, and over the next few weeks, Sweed became Anderson's production assistant.[3][5]

After Anderson left Cleveland for Los Angeles in 1966, Sweed left for Bowling Green State University, but continued to help with the production of the Hoolihan and Big Chuck show, which was Ghoulardi's replacement on WJW.[6]

The Ghoul Show[edit]

In 1970, Sweed approached Ernie Anderson with a proposal to revive Anderson's "Ghoulardi" character. Anderson was not interested, but gave Sweed his blessing to revive the character on his own. With that blessing, Sweed took "The Ghoul" to Cleveland's Kaiser Broadcasting station WKBF-TV (channel 61) in 1971.[7][8] Though it started as a tribute to Ghoulardi, Sweed soon developed his own eye-catching gags and energetic style. Known for his zany, early-adolescent humor (particularly surrounding his abuse of a rubber frog named "Froggy," his well-known penchant for blowing up model ships and aircraft with firecrackers, and his habitual smearing of Cheez Whiz over everything in sight), late night monster movies were a unique experience for Cleveland viewers in the 1970s.[4][9] Catch phrases included "zingy-zingy," "Overdey!" and "stay sick, turn blue".

The Ghoul would typically take an unbelievably bad horror movie and dump in sound bites at appropriate moments, using audio clips from novelty records, George Carlin, Firesign Theater and rock albums of the '60s and early '70s. And whenever a character took a drink of something on-screen, The Ghoul would supply a good, loud belch.[10]

"Shooting from no-budget studio sets, the Ghoul inserted his own dialogue and sound effects over insufferably bad B movies, blew up food, model cars and figurines with firecrackers, and produced strangely compelling, culturally relevant skits and parodies. The show was destructive and childish enough for little kids, subversive and timely enough for young adults."[11]

Later in the 1970s, Kaiser Broadcasting syndicated The Ghoul Show to Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles.[8] It bombed in Chicago—replacing the locally-produced Svengoolie hosted by Jerry G. Bishop—and in Boston, but found success in Detroit at WKBD (channel 50)[12] and enjoyed varying degrees of success in the other markets. Despite the show's popularity, Kaiser eventually canceled it in 1975 amid complaints from parents about the content of some of Sweed's skits, as well as the permanent closure of WKBF by Kaiser itself. But The Ghoul Show resurfaced on independent Detroit station WXON (channel 20) from 1977 to 1979,[13][14] followed by a brief stint at WGPR-TV (channel 62) for several months in 1979.[15] WKBF-TV's successor station WCLQ-TV (channel 61) revived the show from 1982[16] until the spring of 1984;[17] this iteration of the show was also syndicated to WXON.[18]

Sweed was on and off the air in Cleveland and Detroit for over three decades, at times even branching out into radio and the internet.[8][19] The Ghoul returned to Cleveland TV in 1998 on WBNX-TV (channel 55) where he remained for the next six years airing on Friday, then later Sunday nights. He also did a Saturday night request show on classic rock station WNCX (98.5 FM) during the same time period.[6]

The same year, Sweed co-authored (with Mike Olszewski) The Ghoul (S)crapbook (ISBN 978-1886228221), a book collecting memories, on-set photographs, transcripts, correspondence, and memos from his years on the air.[20] Said Robert St Mary, a Detroit journalist and author of The Orbit Magazine Anthology: Re-Entry:[21] "Ron understood that times had changed from the beatnik version of Ernie. It was spectacle. It was blowing stuff up. He was using the crazy hip lingo that Ernie had, and tweaking it a bit more."[4]

In 2015, Sweed appeared at the Redford Theatre. It would be his final appearance there as he was scheduled to perform there in October 2018, but due to health problems, it was canceled.[22] In an October 2017 interview with Metro Times Jarrett Koral, he stated how he gets ready for a show: "smoke a good kielbasa," further remarking that "smoking a kielbasa will take you to places Steppenwolf never imagined on his magic carpet ride." For a boost of instant insanity? "Snort a couple blobs of Cheez Whiz."[23]


The Ghoul was well known enough in the Cleveland and Detroit markets that some of his catch phrases ("Overdey!", "Hey group!", "Scratch glass, turn blue", "Stay sick, climb walls", "Pluck your magic twanger, Froggy!", "Holy Parma", "Amrap" and Froggy's "Hiya gang, hiya hiya hiya!") are still widely recognized among the children of the 1970s.[10]

An interesting side element is that the aforementioned rubber toy referred to simply as "Froggy" (and much abused by the Ghoul) was a toy dating from 1948 by a company named Rempel and featured often in comedic skits on the 1955 television show Andy's Gang where he was named Froggy the Gremlin. The Ghoul's oft-uttered catch phrases "Hiya, gang. Hiya, hiya, hiya" and "Pluck your magic twanger, Froggy" originate from that earlier show.

Awards and honors[edit]

On March 5, 2016, Sweed was presented with a Certificate of Recognition by Cleveland mayor Frank G. Jackson to commemorate the 45th anniversary of his debut on Cleveland TV, and to honor his continuing popularity in the city.[24]

In 2020, he was inducted into the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards' Monster Kid Hall of Fame.[25]


Sweed sued Keven Scarpino, a.k.a. the Son of Ghoul, in 1987 for infringing upon The Ghoul's character, but eventually lost the case. The judge ruled that no infringement occurred, as most horror show hosts portrayed the same basic character - a ghoulish individual who pranced about in costume, performed comedy routines, and showed horror movies.[26]

Personal life and death[edit]

Sweed met his first wife, Barbara J. King, when she was 17, and she was 18 when they married. They were married for 14 years. King and Sweed remained friends after divorcing.[4][5][22] He met Mary Therese Matousek in 1988.[3] Sweed later married Matousek around 1993 as they were married for 26 years.[1][27]

Sweed died on April 1, 2019, five months after suffering a massive heart attack. He had undergone triple bypass surgery on November 7, 2018.[22][27][28]


  1. ^ a b c "Obituary of Ron Sweed". Cleveland: Advance Publications. April 4, 2019. Archived from the original on June 20, 2021. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  2. ^ "birth reference results for Ronald Sweed". FamilySearch. United States: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Archived from the original on September 23, 2022. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Schmaltz, Anita (August 22, 2001). "What's a Ghoul to do?". Metro Times. Detroit: Euclid Media Group. Archived from the original on April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Kiska, Tim (April 3, 2019). "Legendary '70s TV horror host the Ghoul, a.k.a. Ron Sweed, has died". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. Archived from the original on September 23, 2022. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  5. ^ a b WJW Staff (April 2, 2019). "Ron 'The Ghoul' Sweed, legendary TV personality, has passed away". WJW. Cleveland: WJW License, LLC (Tribune Broadcasting). Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Sweed interview - Utter". Archived from the original on July 14, 2019. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  7. ^ Introduction at, first paragraph
  8. ^ a b c DeNatale, Dave "Dino" (April 2, 2019). "Legendary Cleveland television personality Ron 'The Ghoul' Sweed passes away". WKYC. Cleveland: WKYC-TV, LLC (Tegna Inc.). Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  9. ^ "Ghoul profile -". Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  10. ^ a b "NE Ohio movie hosts - Retro". Archived from the original on September 23, 2022. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  11. ^ "Tribute to The Ghoul". Yahoo! GeoCities. Archived from the original on September 23, 2022.
  12. ^ Hlavaty, Kaylyn (April 3, 2019). "TV personality and legend Ron 'The Ghoul' Sweed dies". WXYZ-TV. Detroit: Scripps Broadcasting Holdings LLC (E. W. Scripps Company). Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  13. ^ Bifoss, Fawn (March 20, 1977). "Ghoulish Success Mixes Kitsch with Kiszka". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. p. 7C. Archived from the original on September 23, 2022. Retrieved September 23, 2022 – via
  14. ^ "Names & Faces: Mrs. Abzug Tries for House Seat Again". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. December 20, 1977. p. 12D. Archived from the original on January 24, 2022. Retrieved January 24, 2022 – via
  15. ^ "Tipoff: The Ghoul is now a ghost". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. June 12, 1978. p. A3. Archived from the original on January 24, 2022. Retrieved January 24, 2022 – via
  16. ^ Scott, Jane (September 24, 1982). "Ghoul is going after local bands". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland, Ohio. p. Friday 40. Archived from the original on September 19, 2022. Retrieved September 15, 2022 – via GenealogyBank.
  17. ^ Dawidziak, Mark (March 11, 1984). "Dear Mark: Hollywood Mach-up tricks". Akron Beacon Journal Channels. Akron, Ohio. p. 36. Archived from the original on September 16, 2022. Retrieved September 15, 2022 – via
  18. ^ Duffy, Mike (April 29, 1983). "The Ghoul Is Back: TV horror wars are heating up". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. pp. 1C, 10C. Archived from the original on September 23, 2022. Retrieved September 23, 2022 – via
  19. ^ Introduction at, second paragraph
  20. ^ Sweed, Ron; Olszewski, Mike (1998). Ghoul Scrapbook (Ohio) (1st ed.). Cleveland: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1886228221.
  21. ^ St Mary, Robert (2015). The Orbit Magazine Anthology: Re-Entry. Detroit: Painted Turtle. ISBN 978-0814337318.
  22. ^ a b c Culham, Devin (April 3, 2019). "Late-night TV horror host Ron 'The Ghoul' Sweed dead at age 70". Metro Times. Detroit: Euclid Media Group. Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  23. ^ Koral, Jarrett (October 20, 2017). "For horror host 'the Ghoul,' every day is Halloween". Metro Times. Detroit: Euclid Media Group. Archived from the original on April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  24. ^ "The Ghoul honored by Cleveland mayor". Cleveland: Advance Publications. March 7, 2016. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  25. ^ Colton, David (April 6, 2020). "Here Are the Winners of the (Gasp!) 18th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards". Archived from the original on April 9, 2020. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  26. ^ "Son of Ghoul - Utter". Archived from the original on May 21, 2008. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  27. ^ a b Cole, Amber (April 3, 2019). "Cleveland icon 'The Ghoul' dies 5 months after suffering heart attack". WOIO. Cleveland: Gray Television Licensee, LLC (Gray Television). Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  28. ^ Petkovic, John (April 3, 2019). "Legendary Cleveland horror host Ron 'The Ghoul' Sweed has died". Cleveland: Advance Publications. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved April 3, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Feran, Tom; Heldenfels, Rich D. (1999). Ghoulardi: Inside Cleveland TV's Wildest Ride (1st ed.). Cleveland: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1886228184.

External links[edit]