Ernie Anderson was born Nov. 12, 1923 in Lynn, Massachusetts & was destined to become one of the most famous & highest paid voice talents of the 20th century. He broke into radio at Burlington, Vermont's WSKI-AM in 1946. Later, he became the number one DJ in the Providence, Rhode Island market. After a stint in Albany, New York, he went to WHK-AM in Cleveland & met Tim Conway. Before Conway became famous, he wrote comedy for radio & TV host Malcom "Big" Wilson. Ernie (with Conway in tow & passing him off as a director) was hired by Cleveland's WJW-TV in 1961.They created "Ernie's Place", a daytime show of movies interlaced with comedy skits. Anderson, at the same time was a booth announcer & spokesman for Ohio Bell. So as not portray a conflict of interest, he started giving his dialog in "Beatnik" tones. He then donned a lab coat, fright wig, fake goatee & moustache. It was with this twist of fate Ernie created one of the legendary local TV show hosts, "Ghoulardi".
His Ghoulardi character became a staple for WJW-TV's Friday night horror movie show "Shock Threater.". "He was the original hippie." , said "Big" Chuck Schodowski, who later played Ghoulardi & would later create the "Big Chuck & Houlihan Show" for WJW-TV. "Ghoulardi" did not simply mock the grade-Z horror flicks, but would also superimpose himself on the screen, shouting to characters & joining the action. He riffed his way through host segments in a dimly lit studio, reading fan & hate mail, blowing up model cars with firecrackers, smoking cigarettes profusely, tossing rubber chickens & talking on an old-fashioned telephone.
At the peak of his popularity, "Ghoulardi" commanded an astounding 56 percent share of the local TV audience, compared to Johnny Carson at 38 shares & Steve Allen at 6. With the highest local ratings beating national shows & making local appearances across Cleveland, Ernie, as "Ghoulardi" owned that market. Shortly after that, Rose Marie, best known as "Sally" on The Dick Van Dyke Show, promoted Conway to Steve Allen, who summoned Conway to Hollywood for his show. Back in Cleveland, Ernie's battles with management & corporate types became legendary. His on-air antics continued mercilessly until his departure for California in 1966, where he later appeared as an actor on the first two episodes of Conway's short-lived series "Rango" in 1967. Ernie & Conway then became a comedy act. They appeared together on "Hollywood Palace" & recorded two comedy albums together.
Later, Ernie would move on with Tim Conway & become the announcer for the Carol Burnett Show. In 1970, Ernie returned to Cleveland to tape a TV special & met up with Ron Sweed. Ron had worked with Ernie on Shock Theater & had produced WJW-TV's "Big Chuck & Houlihan" show. Sweed felt that the market needed Ghoulardi & asked Ernie if he could continue the character. After some hesitation, Ernie christened Sweed & "The Ghoul" was born. The Ghoul is still on today in Cleveland on WBMX-TV (WB 55).
At the end of the 1970's, ABC's then chief Program Director, Fred Silverman, decided to hire "the golden throat" as ABC's voice. Ernie Anderson's style & delivery set the precedent for network announcing. His voice was instantly recognizable when introducing spots for America’s Funniest Home Videos, The Winds of War, Roots, & of course, The Love Boat.
Ernie Anderson passed away on February 6, 1997.
Paul Thomas Anderson named in his production company after his father's famous persona & continues to pay homage with sequences like "The Rahad Jackson Firecracker Scene" & character names such as Phil Parma. Others do the same as local Cleveland resident, Drew Carey wears a Ghoulardi shirt on his show from time to time.
"As I got older," Paul Thomas Anderson said, "I kept thinking, 'What is this Ghoulardi thing? What is it? What? What?' We went back to Cleveland once when I was 14 and we were mobbed at the airport by people chanting 'Ghoulardi! Ghoulardi!' And when I do interviews anywhere in the country, constantly, constantly, people who are enamored of my father or who grew up with him bring him up or even thank me for Ghoulardi!" Toledo Blade - 1/24/00
My dad was one of the first guys on the block to have a VCR. So along with all the videotapes that I would rummage through, I would find porno movies. Not that it twisted me into some maniac or anything. I was watching porno from age 10 to 17. I had an interest in it. - Rough Cut Q & A - 10/97
He also thinks that his father would be proud of the films he's
made after Hard Eight, the only one the elder Anderson saw because there is some
thing personal about them.