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Free Times - Ohio's Premier News, Arts, & Entertainment Weekly


Volume 15, Issue 22
Published October 3rd, 2007
Best of All Time

Local TV

GHOULARDI - Sometimes too honest.
GHOULARDI - Sometimes too honest.

Ernie Anderson (Ghoulardi)

Often imitated but never duplicated, Ernie Anderson practically invented - and most assuredly perfected - the weirdo local TV horror-movie host persona. From 1963 to 1966, Anderson was known in these parts as Ghoulardi, the devilishly goateed front man of Shock Theater, which aired on WJW. He never took himself seriously, introducing his poor-quality horror movies with quips like, "This movie is so bad, you should just go to bed." During his time on Cleveland TV, Anderson made fun of Parma so much (white socks, pink flamingos, etc.) that managers tried to censor him, so he started referring to the town as Amrap, apparently assuming anyone who lived in Parma probably wouldn't be smart enough to recognize what he was doing. If you live in Cleveland and don't respect Ghoulardi, you are a Purple Knif. - JR

Big Chuck & Lil' John

Chuck Schodowski studied under the best, Ernie Anderson. When Ghoulardi skipped town, Big Chuck started a new horror-movie show with local weatherman Bob Wells (a.k.a. Hoolihan). In 1979, Hoolihan was replaced by a 4-foot-3 local jeweler named John Rinaldi, who had appeared in several sketches in the past. The Big Chuck and Lil' John Show continued for 28 years; the last original episode aired July 17. The show often contained sketches featuring parodies such as Cuyahoga Jones and Batguy & Rinaldi, each, of course, ending with the signature laugh track that had been recycled on every sketch since the late '60s. Though retired, Big Chuck and Lil' John sometimes reunite for signings at local haunted houses. - JR

Gene Carroll


Talent scout Gene Carroll hosted The Gene Carroll Show on Sunday afternoons on WEWS-TV, one of a number of popular "amateur hour" shows around the country that served as entry points for starry-eyed performers of varying degrees of talent hoping for show business careers. However, in part due to the length of its run - it debuted in the late '40s and, hosted by Carroll until his 1972 death, ran until the late '70s - it became one of the better known. With its mix of no-hopers and diamonds in the rough, its appeal was similar to that of today's American Idol. Occasionally, the show hosted someone who went on to greater fame; the Cowsill Brothers are alleged to have given their first public performance on the show while their family lived in Canton. - AP

Dorothy Fuldheim

Those who remember Dorothy Fuldheim in the latter days of her unusually lengthy career as a newscaster and interviewer recall her as an opinionated little old lady with absurdly red hair. She began her career in radio in the '20s, and interviewed Mussolini and Hitler in the '30s. She joined WEWS-TV in 1949 and remained with the station for the rest of her career. In 1959, she launched her own news/opinion/interview program, and is generally considered the first woman in the country to host such a show. In the early '80s she covered Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding and interviewed President Reagan. She didn't slow down until suffering a stroke in 1984, at the age of 91. She died five years later. - AP

Dick Goddard

You gotta love Dick Goddard. At a time when other broadcast "journalists" will strip in public or chase two-bit con men with microphones and call it a "special report," he just offers straightforward weather forecasts, same way he's been doing it since 1961. The craziest thing he's ever done was to start the Woollybear Festival, and that's grown from a lark to a major annual event. Just goes to show how much people trust the guy. We don't know how many years he plans to keep at it, but we hope it's a lot; he's one of the few class acts left in the business. - FL

Norton Furniture Guy


His cheap commercials featuring life-sized mannequins of policemen and white tigers only make sense if you're high. And his just-inhaled-helium-and-now-I'm-talking-through-gravel voice is just a tad creepy. But apparently, the gist is: If you can't get credit at Norton Furniture, you can't get credit anywhere. That's great. Strangely, these commercials have made store owner Marc Brown a national celebrity; he was featured on MTV's viral video countdown and various late-night talk shows, not to mention YouTube, where one commercial has been viewed 153,000 times. Andy Warhol is spinning in his grave. - JR

Paige Palmer

Back in the '50's, fashion had Coco Chanel, makeup had Max Factor and Cleveland had Paige Palmer, who urged women to stretch, tuck and lift from the little screen five days a week. For 25 years, The Paige Palmer Show featured exercise for ladies as well as high style. Palmer's WEWS show, which began in 1948, was the first of its kind, airing decades before a monster named infomercial would deliver unto us the likes of Susan Powter. But Palmer didn't just look great in a leotard, her career included broadcast and print journalism and the publication of more than 20 travel books. Mum's the word on Palmer's age, but who's counting the years? This forward-thinking Cleveland icon is beautiful by any standard. - EO

Linn Sheldon

He was adored by Cleveland-area kids of the '50s, '60s and '70s who knew him as Barnaby, an elfin television host in a straw hat who scampered about the Enchanted Forest and played cartoons in an age when there was no 24-hour Nickelodeon toon-fest. Ironically, as a kid Sheldon was the odd one out, born to an alcoholic, mostly absent father and a mother who died shortly after his birth. He was bounced to over nine different families in Norwalk before hitchhiking to Florida on a song - played on his banjo, which eventually got him discovered. Sheldon died in 2006 after an eclectic career that spanned over 40 years. His famous farewell line: "If anybody calls, tell them Barnaby said hello. And tell them that I think you are the nicest person in the whole world. Just you." - EO


Superhost - You may still remember his theme song.
Superhost - You may still remember his theme song.

Supe's on! A mild-mannered TV announcer by day, with a cape and a little red make-up on his nose, Marty Sullivan became Superhost, introducing Saturday afternoon monster movies at Channel 43 for 20 years. Before the movies, he often played Laurel & Hardy sketches or a Three Stooges short. Often, he liked to interrupt the feature with a locally produced skit. A music video for the song "Convoy," featuring matchbox cars, was picked up by affiliates across the country. Ask any Clevelander over 30 about Superhost, and most likely they'll still remember that catchy tune that introduced the show and stuck in your head all week. Duh Dum Dum Dum Duh Dum Dah Dah... - JR

Don Webster

In the '60s, affable weatherguy Don Webster was Cleveland's own Dick Clark. As host of the WEWS rock 'n' roll variety show that was original called The Big 5 Show, and later The Upbeat Show, he was the face of the hip teen program that included go-go dancers and a studio audience to accompany performances by most of the big hit-makers of its era (1964-1971). The syndicated show, which among other things featured Otis Redding's last performance before he died in a plane crash in 1967, was seen in over 100 markets in its prime, making Webster familiar to rock 'n' roll fans well beyond Cleveland. - AP

More Cover Stories:

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