People You Should Know in Chicago

Svengoolie

Excerpt from Svengoolie show starts playing

Svengoolie: I was a fan of the original Svengoolie. Jerry G. Bishop, both from radio and his TV stuff, he just happened to be the staff announcer who’s on duty Friday nights when WFLD was running horror movies and instead of just doing his announcements straight, he started to goof around with it and do jokes and do the…he started Transylvanian accent and eventually build into him, you know, doing his own show as this Svengoolie character. But he would read jokes from fans, so I was a fan of his, and I sent in jokes and he used quite a few of them and when he found out I was a broadcasting student and a writer, he asked me to write some specific things, like specific parodies of things and such and…working with him both there and when he was on the radio on WMAQ, and eventually it was his idea that I would become the son of Svengoolie. And he said to me, “you could do it, you could be the son of Svengoolie,” and he trusted that I would be able to carry it off, but eventually I didn’t get the show and I went on the air on WFLD in 1979 in June.

This set here, we had our old set, which was falling apart, including the coffin, which is now in the museum of broadcasting here in Chicago, but I was very fortunate. We have some friends at the Acme Design company in Elgin, who are not only big fans of the show, but also fans of the 30’s and 40’s type movies, and they immediately knew exactly what would be perfect for this show. They built the equipment here that’s out here. They made the new coffin, which is so cool. Besides the coffin, we have some of the set pieces that we had with our original set. There are many chickens there and a lot of the stuff that looks exactly like, you know, the stuff that we have now, but it’s the original stuff we were using, including the original organ that we used on the show, which by the way never really functioned, (Svengoolie laughs), [be]cause my company that’s dug does all the music tracks at home.

For the most part, the makeup stayed the same and it’s always been, you know, the black top hat. I used to just wear different t-shirts and that was too informal, you know. Since I was a big fan of Groucho Marx, I remembered he painted on the mustache and I thought if it’s good enough for him, it’s certainly good enough for me. I have never expected, you know, when I started in 1979 that I’d still be doing it now, and nationally, back then, I was just thrilled to have a job, but we’re on in, you know, almost in the entire country now. We hear from people all over the place; maybe that’s another reason why I’m still doing it, because people wanna see it.

Creepy music starts playing, Ankin Law Office logo appears

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