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November 22, 2008

Howard Thurston: ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST ILLUSIONISTS

Howard Thurston was perhaps one of, if not the best, illusionist that ever took the stage. Both his personality, skills were far beyond magicians during his era and perhaps of all time. Here you will see many of his tricks and illusions within this short clip

Alex Chilton: The Box Tops ('THE LETTER' playback TWICE!): John Zacherle (aka Zacherley) Disc-O-Teen--Halloween Dance Party (1967)



 
"An incredible find--and the tape is in such great shape after 41 years!"-

DISC-O-TEEN VIEWER

"I remember Jim Morrison walking by me in the middle of a dance. He said to me, 'This is the damnedest show I ever saw in my life.'"-
John ZACHERLEY




ABOUT THIS CLIP:

John Zacherle* (aka Zacherley), TV horror-host of "Disc-O-Teen,**" hosts this 1967 'Halloween Dance Party' episode, featuring, The BOX TOPS--The Letter.

ABOUT ALEX CHILTON AND THE BOX TOPS APPEARANCE:

"Alex Chilton and the band don't perform, but their hit single, "The Letter" is played twice during the show. The band endures Zach's jibes, including lessons on how to flirt with teenage girls from New Jersey...The Box Tops chat it up with the horror-host while they plug their album, an upcoming European tour, and a show at the Cheetah Club in NYC! "The Letter", The Box Tops' first of ten hits reached #1 in the fall of 1967.

**ABOUT DISC-O-TEEN'S FORMAT:

Only two programs remain of over 700 daily Disc-O-Teen episodes aired in the New York City/New Jersey metro area between 1965 and 1967 on WNJU-TV, Channel 47.

ABOUT ZACHERLEY:

What really made JOHN take the job as host was being able to host the show as Zacherley--and that he loved rock and roll. He brought along "Gasport" and "My Dear" as well.

ZACHERLEY says about the show:

"It was really experimental. The producers gave me a lot of flexibility. We'd try something. If it didn't work we wouldn't do it again. Fridays were theme days when the visitors (student dancers) would dress up depending on what the theme was. One Friday was gangster day, another was Roman toga day. It was a wonderful three years, but then all good things have to end."



AFTER THE DISC-O:

Zach became a DJ. A listener whose father hired Zacherey says,
"I remember that he played something from the Dead Boys' first LP and also held up a copy of Pink Floyd's Ummagumma."

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE
DISC-O-TEENIEBOPPERS?


Many of the "Disc-O-Teen" kids went on to lead interesting lives: A Miss Littlefeather won the "Miss American Vampire" contest, AND three years later, made headlines for rejecting an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando over a standoff between authorities and activists at Wounded Knee, S.D.

Another manages ex-Beatle, Pete Best.

And another married a member of the British rock band, Procol Harum.

Richard Scrivani of Bergenfield wrote a memoir titled "Good Night, Whatever You Are! My Journey With Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul," published in 2006.

ZACHERLEY AND THE DOORS:

The Doors made their first TV appearance on Disco-Teen. Jim Morrison stumbled around the "Disc-O-Teen" dance floor, and many former dancers recall Zacherley conducting a bizarre interview with the Doors' singer.

"We assumed they (The Doors) were stoned," a dancer says. "They were very spaced-out, especially Jim Morrison. Zach tried to interview him, and he hardly said a word. A lot of the kids thought it was strange."

At a recent Chiller Theatre Expo Zach had a real treat. Ray Manzarek of the Doors stopped by his table for a chat. He remembered being on Disc-o-Teen and wanted to thank Zach for the great time that he and the other Doors members had had.

***(THANKS TO ALL THE VIEWERS, FANS, WRITERS, YOUTUBERS AND COMMENTERS WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS READER'S DIGEST VERSION OF JOHN ZACHERLEY AND DISC-O-TEEN, AND ESPECIALLY TO THE ORIGINAL POSTER OF THIS CLIP--NICHOPOULOOZA)

The Story of Television's First Ghoul


In the annals of modern entertainment, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who's had a longer and more richly-varied career than John Zacherle. Recording artist, television star, announcer, disk jockey, emcee, Zacherle has capably filled these roles and several others. Yet it is for one role that Zacherle has attained show business immortality. For baby boomers, he will be remembered as the best of the horror hosts in the form of his creation, Zacherley, the most clever, most original and funniest of a once thriving breed.

Little Baby Zach
John Zacherle was born on September 27, 1918 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His childhood was normal and seemingly uneventful. One interesting fact about Zach's youthful years was that his parents were strict and refused to allow him to see the horror films that were all the rage among young theater goers in the 1930's. Zach grew up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia and graduated from Germantown High School. His good grades gained him entry into the University of Pennsylvania where a Bachelor's degree was attained in English Literature. Zach's graduation from college and the outbreak of WW II coincided, with Zach enlisting in the army and seeing action in Europe and North Africa, and eventually attaining the rank of major.

Major Zach Returns Home
Returning home to Philadelphia at the conclusion of the war, and in the army reserves. Zacherle took his time finding the right job. Someone mentioned acting and this lead to Zach's audition with a local repertory group called the Stagecrafters, who were based in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Zach was living at home and enjoying his leisurely life-style and the various parts he was able to get with the Stagecrafters. Remember, this was the early 1950's and people were trying to enjoy the serenity of the postwar world.

Zacherle was said to have developed a love for gardening and had even won an award for his flowers at a Philadelphia show. He was also branching out to other show business related jobs in Philadelphia's booming entertainment industry, including a stint as radio announcer.

Zach Lands His First Role
Gradually, Zacherle made his way to television where his first notable appearance was in a fateful role in a daily live serial-styled western, Action in the Afternoon. The show was aired live and had a typically low local television budget. The continuing story line featured a regular cast of characters, which included Zach in a number of bit parts. At one point, it was decided to hire an actor to portray the town undertaker, a onetime role that could be used to dispose of the recent victims of gunfights and hangings. Somehow, it was decided to award the part to Zacherle. The budget conscious costume department decided to dress the town's new undertake in a long black frock coat and this item of apparel would become one of Zacherle's most important visual props, one which remains with him to this day.

Zach described the show: "It was a Western and kind of crazy. Everything would go wrong. Horses would run away. Nobody knew how to ride a horse anyway. Everything was live in those days, so we'd stand in the set which was a parking lot outside the studio, hitch our horses up, walk in the door casually . . . then run like crazy across the lobby and into the studio for the interior shots."

Fate Intervenes
Zach may have continued in this fashion for years taking occasional small roles and bit parts, but fate intervened. Universal Pictures decided to releases their library of 1930's and 1940's horror films to television. A full page in Variety announced the film packages. It was called SHOCK and it encompassed such films as The Wolfman, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, and all of the sequels. A second package was called SON OF SHOCK and completed the collection with the Inner Sanctum films and all of the B movies that Universal-International created during the 1940's. Over 70 films, and stations all around the country lined up to make deals to play them in the fall of 1957. WCAU - Channel 10 in Philadelphia and WABC - Channel 7 in New York were two of the stations that signed to play these movies during the late night hours. Some stations decided to go al out and signed actors to portray creepy, characters to host the films. There were mad scientists, vampires, and various eccentrics.

Shock Theatre
Not long after the undertaker role, Zach received a phone call from Philadelphia TV station WCAU and was asked to host Shock Theatre. He adds, "Someone remembered me from the western. I never even tried out. I whipped out the old black coat I wore as the undertaker on the cowboy show."

Zach parted his hair in the middle and applied the famous ghoul-like makeup and the rest was history.Continued . . . Page 3

Shock Theatre debuted in September of 1957 with Zach appearing as Roland, a crazy character who lived in a crypt. Charlie Vanda, the president of WCAU came up with the name and as Zach is quick to point out, the accent was on the second syllable -- Ro-LAND. Roland had an assistant named Igor, and his wife lived in a coffin. The wife was referred to as "my dear" and occasionally Roland would make her day with a well-placed thrust of a wooden stake. (The stake was actually driven into a bucket of dirt). Other times he would join her in the coffin while watching the evening's film with the audience. Another character was Gasport, Roland's son who hung formlessly from the wall in a burlap bag and moaned.

On one hilarious occasion, Roland sent an unwilling Gasport into outer space in a guided missile, and that was the beauty of the WCAU studio; it was large enough to drive a truck into or shoot a rocket from. Photographs from the WCAU days show the set as being eerily elaborate with craggy walls, a spiral staircase and all of the trappings of a mad scientist's laboratory.

Oh, The Memories . .
Roland opened each program by walking down the staircase and then reciting some little bits of info in a ghoulish voice. People who were regular Roland followers have said that Zacherle's performance at WCAU was usually more gory than broadcasts on WABC or WOR. For example, he would occasionally carry a basket down the stairs with him and reveal to the viewers that it contained a severed head complete dripping blood, which was actually, chocolate syrup.

Originally, the program was aired in the 11:15 late night movie slot on Monday and Tuesday. However, the show was popular not only among adults but among children as well. Therefore, the program was moved to Friday and Saturday and Roland's popularity increased in leaps and bounds. At one point, there were in excess of 800 Roland Fan clubs in Philadelphia and kids could be spotted all over the city wearing large black buttons that said "Roland" or "l like Igor." Zach was even the subject of a feature article in the August 16, 1958, issue of Saturday Evening Post called "T.V.'s Midnight Madness."

Zach Jumps In
It was at WCAU that Zach, in the guise of Roland, stumbled upon his most unique and creative bit of satire. This was known as the "break-in" or "jump-in", whereby, Zach would insert himself into the actual film, usually, to great comedic effect. The first time this occurred was during a broadcast of The Black Cat with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Writer/Producer, Ed White, originally got the idea. In this instance, Karloff was presiding over a devil worship ceremony and at one point the camera panned to close-ups of the various participants. The WCAU cameraman shot to Zach making a face and then back to the film. Everyone at the station thought this was "hysterical," so they tried it with other films. It became one of the more popular elements of the Roland show and many people tuned in waiting for each break-in, which they discussed the next day with friends.

Mob at WCAU
One of the more famous incidents at WCAU was the open house held at the studio, so that, all of Roland's fans could meet their hero. The executives at the station expected 1200-1300 people but realized that as many as 2,000 might show up. In actuality, 14,000 people showed up, stopping traffic throughout Philadelphia and damaging the WCAU facility. Needless to say, WCAU executives vowed to never hold another!

The First Recording
Roland's popularity was noticed by some important people in the entertainment industry, including Bernie Lowe (one of the owners of the Cameo & Parkway record labels). Lowe came home from work one night and found his daughter glued to the TV set watching the antics of Roland. When Lowe asked his daughter about the character, she said he was all the rage among the local teens. Lowe watched as Zach recited crazy horror limericks, some of which fans sent in, and got the idea to record Roland.

The result was "Dinner with Drac", a medium tempo rock song which Zacherle half sung and half recited. On the record he was backed by Dave Appell and the Applejacks, the house band at Cameo Records. One of the memorable features of the record is wailing sax. Dick Clark claims to have been at this session. It is also rumored that Clark refused to play "Dinner with Drac" on American Bandstand, so Zacherle recut it using milder Iyrics. Incidentally, the record was originally issued with Igor on the flip side, but was quickly reissued with "Dinner with Drac, Part 1", the milder version, on the air play side. The record was a big hit and went up to number 6 on the Billboard chart, prompting Zacherle to make appearances on American Bandstand and a number of teen orientated shows. Zach's billing on the record label is interesting--it states: John Zacherle - "The Cool Ghoul" who plays Roland. Zacherle gives Dick Clark credit for calling him The Cool Ghoul. A sequel, "Eighty Two Tombstones", was cut but was not successful, most likely because Zacherle was in the process of moving to New York at the time it was released.

Zach Leaves WCAU
Speaking of the move to New York, it has never been 100% clear as to why Zacherle ended such a successful run on WCAU prematurely, but it appears that a great deal of unpleasantness on both sides regarding salary, ownership of the character, and other details may have precipitated the change. Zach had made some contacts in New York City as a result of the success of "Dinner with Drac" and was able to negotiate a deal for himself at the WABC affiliate, Channel 7, just at the time his one year contract with WCAU was ending. The Manhattan station had been airing the Shock Theatre package since 1957, around the same time that WCAU started to run them. WABC didn't have a live host, using instead a Frank Galop styled off-screen announcer.

Around this time, Zacherle made a motion picture, a murder mystery called Key to Murder. Zach portrayed a detective and many of the Action in the Afternoon actors also had parts in the film. Zach remembers that the film either had a limited theatrical run or no theatrical run and then went directly to local Philadelphia television stations. It probably has never played on New York television. Interestingly enough, the film was included for review in early editions of Steven Schurer's book, Movies On Television.

Zacherley, With A "Y"
As the premiere of Zach's WABC show came closer, TV Guide and the local papers were utilized for a promotional campaign. Coming September 22, 1958, Master Ghoul Zacherley will host Shock Theater Monday and Friday". The letter "Y" was added to Zach's name to make pronunciation easier. Unlike the large set on WCAU, Zach had to content himself with a smaller crypt at WABC, but since it was nicely decorated in macabre fashion, it made an excellent place for Zach to carry on his ghoulish escapades. Photographs taken at the time show that care was taken to build a set that really looked like a combination laboratory/crypt with a nice variety of props including skull, beakers, shrunken heads, and candles.

The Big Debut
Shock Theater Zach would continue to host the classic Universal horror films, but would create new routines and break-ins to go along with them. As September 22 neared, the local papers teased viewers with ads that stated 8 days to Z day . . . 7 days to Z day . . . etc., etc. Zach made his New York debut on September 22, 1958, at 11:15 pm, hosting The Mystery of Edwin Drood. As the weeks passed he hosted many of Universal's second line productions,including The Mad Daughter of Market Street and The Mystery of Marie Roget. Many tuned in strictly to see Zach and laugh at the "break-ins". Some of Zach's bits from this time included "Zach's discussion of the nervous system", "Zach's attempt to cure Isabel of insomnia", and "Gasport's medical check-up."

At Channel 7, Zacherly had the luxury of a live band, the WABC orchestra, and would use the entire band or select members from time to time. For example, one show (November 28, 1958) featured "Transylvanian folk music" and on another occasion, Zach performed a new opera "Il Draculare".

Many of the evenings experiments centered around Gasport and Isabel's problems. By the way, "My Dear", became Isobel at WABC. One episode had Zach attempting to find a cure for Isabel's falling hair. Another had Zach trying to redecorate Isabel's resting place with fresh dirt. These shows were a lot of fun, punctuated by Zach's improvisation skills and marvelous sense of humor. There would Zach be holding a large metal "hypodermic needle" and attempting to inject some potion into a large "cauliflower brain."

Needless to say, these shows featured many inventive break-ins. One very funny example: "During The Raven, Bela Lugosi is on the phone with one of his colleagues in the medical profession and refuses to offer his services as a surgeon. Finally he asks, 'who's on the case?' We hear the muffled reply, 'Zacherley and Gasport'. Lugosi's answer, 'I'm satisfied. They can handle it as well as I can."'

Everybody Knows Your Name
During this time, Zacherly became a household word in the New York area. He made crossover appearances to the Dave Garraway Show, the Steve Allen Show, the Jack Paar Show, and Pat Boone Show, among others. A third 45 RPM record was released pairing "I was a Teenage Caveman" with "Dummy Doll", two more novelty shockers. Unfortunately, the record failed to chart.

Famous Monster
During this period of time, Zach also appeared in a pictorial in issue #4 of Famous Monsters of Filmland, which was released in the spring of 1959. Also, during March of 1959, WABC sent out a press release that announced that "Ghoul Zacherley will be given his own show of creep films to host Friday and Saturday night called Zacherley At Large." It was also announced that the name Shock Theatre would be retired.

Unfortunately, Zacherle's tenure at WABC was coming to an end. During the June 20, 1959, show, Zach appeared during the last commercial interruption without makeup and announced that this was his last show for the year and when he returned in the fall it would be on WOR - Channel 9. For the record, the last movie Zach hosted on Channel 7 was Weird Woman.

Zach On A Map
It was during this time that the New York Journal American ran an item that became one of the great Zacherley collectibles from the 1950's. This was a map of Transylvania complete with a photo of Zach. The map, which was illustrated with humorous drawings that reeked of Zacherley Shock Theatre style wit, was included in the newspaper's TV Guide sized television magazine. Thanks to Zach's plugging of the map several times on his Saturday program, dealers sold out of the Journal American quickly, since many people who didn't normally read the paper bought it for the map!

Although Zach's Channel 9 show didn't debut until October 30, he was far from dormant during this time. Beginning May, Zach embarked a series of personal appearances in large theaters, such as the AstoriaFabian (Paterson), the Branford in Newark, the Jefferson in New York City, and the Stanley in Jersey City. (Long Island), the

The author was fortunate enough to see Zacherley on July 14, 1959, at the Stanley Theater in Jersey City. Tickets were sold in advance and cost $.99 - "big bucks" for a kid in 1959. All those who bought tickets were given a free 8x10 photo of Zacherley. The photos, now rare collector's items, were really lithographs and were signed, "Greetings Whatever you are - Zacherle." Zach's live performance lasted about 45 minutes. To the sold out capacity crowd in the audience, it seemed like it flew by in 45 seconds. Zach brought Gasport and Janos and cavorted around the stage with them, but Isobel was conspicuous by her absence. Zach joked about the quality of the films he hosted and told the audience, "too bad - we'll be running them all over again next year - ha! ha! ha!" He lip synched a song and danced around the stage with Janos, kicking Gasport out of his way several times. He then said "Goodbye, whatever you are", gave a few wolf howls and left the stage. The audience loved it and screamed for more but had to content itself with a screening of the Hammer film The Revenge of Frankenstein. For most of the kids at the Stanley Theatre on the muggy day in 1959, it was one of the highlights of their young lives. It was amazing the effect that the slender character in the white makeup and frock coat had on audiences, and it's strange that little mention is made of the charisma and live performing skills that Zacherle possessed in those days.

It was during this time that Zach encountered a Vampira look-alike at a promotional event for a Spike Jones LP. The album was called Spike Jones in HiFi - A Spooktacular in Screaming Sound. During May of 1959, Warner Brothers records brought Loulie Jean Norman, who played Vampira on the LP to New York for a promotional tour. (Paul Frees played Frankenstein on the LP.) It was arranged for Zacherle to meet Norman at the airport resulting in a memorable photo opportunity

TV Guide, 1959 Zach's first WOR show saw him hosting Zombies On Broadway. As the show opened Zach was thrown forcibly into his new crypt. Zach yelled, "Let me out of here," a few times then settled down to eat a banana and host the film. Zach's initial program on WOR caused tremendous anxiety on the part of New York horror fans. Channel 2 was airing a Halloween premiere of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, and many fans not knowing that the Saturday broadcasts of Zach's shows would be repeats of the Friday show were forced to choose between the two. When Zacherley fans did understand that all three Zacherley broadcasts would be the same show, they were able to watch the one that was convenient, or watch all three. (The real fans watched all three, meaning that they sat through three broadcasts of each humdrum movie.)

A Simple Set
Unlike WCAU and WABC, Channel 9 spent very little on the Zacherley show set. A canvas mail cart was used for Isobel's "box" and no attempt was made to give the set a crypt-like appearance. When Zacherly needed a prop such as an operating table, it was just placed onto the bare set. Zach was always able to triumph over these budgetary constraints and make his routine funny and memorable.

The breakins were up to the usual standards as well. An example from the first broadcast--gangster Sheldon Leonard walks up to a poker game in his "Zombie Hut" Nightclub. Zach looks up from his cards and says, "Hiya, Boss."

Now Rare - Zacherley Merchandise
While on WOR, Zacherley was aggressively merchandised. One of the most fondly remembered souvenirs from that era was the "Transylvanian Passport" which was available by sending two labels from Strawberry Cocoa Marsh Syrup to the manufacturer. The passport, which was red on one side and black and white on the other, has become another sought-after Zacherely collectible.

Cover to Midnight Snacks Another desirable collectible was the paperback anthology, Zacherley's Midnight Snacks, which featured introductions by Zach to the stories. The book proved to be popular and went into a second printing. One famous incident involving the book occurred when Zach announced that he would be at Macy's to autograph copies of the paperback. The author of this article attended that book signing, which rivaled the WCAU "riot" of 1958. Zacherley fans of every shape and size descended upon the department store before Zach even arrived, and the lines went from the book department down every flight of stairs, out into the street and down Broadway.

"By the time I reached Zach he appeared to be exhausted and barely scribbled his name onto the book. I said to him, 'Zach, when are you going to get some good movies on channel 9?', and he gave a weary smile while replying, 'Soon, my boy, soon.'"

Since Midnight Snacks sold so well, Ballantine Books issued a sequel called, Zacherley's Vulture Stew, which also went into a second printing. Each book remained in print for years.

Another desirable item was the life-sized six foot Zacherley poster which was available from Captain Company. Many a ten year old had that poster taped and glued to his bedroom wall, which explains why so few of them survived in good condition. A further Captain Company collectible was the rubber Zacherley face mask. None of these seemed to have survived, which could be the benefit of cheap materials used in the item's manufacture.

Unlike previous stations which aired live, WOR taped their Zacherley programs. This allowed them to show each program three times, and then broadcast them on their California sister station, WKHJ, at a later date. WOR and WKHJ showed reruns of the Zacherley program the following year as well. Because these shows were on tape it was hoped that some of the broadcasts survived Zach's tenure at the station. However, this author contacted WOR during 1987 and was informed that the shows were taped over years ago.

Zach For President
During the summer of 1960, commercials began airing for the "Zacherley for President" set. This package included a button, photo, two bumper stickers, two posters and a book. Due to poor distribution, the set was difficult to find and has become a rarity.

During the Halloween weekend of 1961, Zacherley appeared on the educational children's show 1,2,3, Go! The program was normally hosted by Jack Lescoulie and a young Richard Thomas. Zach was on hand for the Halloween installment which explored haunted houses. Since this program was on film, it is likely that it still exists in the NBC archives.

While repeats of Zach's Channel 9 programs aired occasionally very late at night, no new programs were taped and Zach's contract expired. Zach did return to WOR to perform in the annual Multiple Sclerosis Telethon which was hosted by Dennis James. Besides performing and urging the TV audience to give money to the worthy cause, Zach spent long hours manning the telephones.

During the summer of 1960, Zacherley's first long playing album was released. The title, Spook Along With Zacherley, was a takeoff on the Sing Along With Mitch TV Show. This LP, recorded with a large orchestra and released by Elektra Records, was produced by Stan Rhodes and Gerald Alters. One of the songs, "Zacherley for President," tied in with the book and poster set. Zach says that someone at the Ted Bates advertising agency came up with the Zacherley for President campaign.

It should be mentioned that Zach still turned up occasionally on American Bandstand particularly around Halloween time and often sang songs from his album and singles.

Keeping this in mind, the powers at Cameo Parkway Records contracted Zach toward the end of 1962 to cut a version of "Monster Mash" and an LP. The album included several recordings made famous by Chubby Checker, DeeDee Sharp, the Orlons, and Dovells. The original vocals were removed from the mixes and Zach sang new satirical Iyrics that were especially written for him and featured horror references. To give the record a "concept album" feel, the songs were connected by horror sound effects. This LP hit the billboard charts and outsold Bobby Pickett's version in many markets. The LP remained in print for years and was eventually replaced by a 10 song budget version on the Wyncote subsidiary label.

Cameo Parkway followed Monster Mash with another LP, Scary Tales, which contained eleven new songs including the Zacherley classic "Happy Halloween." The first song on the album, the title song, contained a "trick track" so that different Iyrics played each time you set the stylus in the groove.

Dick Clark Fill-In
During the early 1960's, Zacherley filled in for an ailing Dick Clark on one of his "Caravan of Stars" bus tours. Several of the Cameo Parkway stars appeared on this tour including Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell.

Zacherley Despite the monster craze sweeping the nation at this time, little was heard from Zach until the summer of 1963 when WPIX, channel 11 in New York, announced that Zacherle would join their line-up hosting Hercules cartoons. WPIX gave Zach a nostalgic and elaborate crypt set which included a castle window and plenty of props. For Zach it was business as usual as he revived his old routines and brought along Gasport, Isobel, and the Amoebas for extra laughs.

During 1964, WPIX made a number of programming changes in an effort to improve ratings. Zacherley was made the host of Chiller Theatre, thereby allowing him to do what he does best - host films. Some of the movies lampooned included She Demons, Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman and Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Unfortunately, Zach's deal with WPIX ended during 1964.

Zacherley In 1965, Zach turned up with a new program, Zacherley's Disco Teen, which aired daily on the Newark, N.J., UHF station, Channel 47, WNJU-TV. Zach describes the show as "sort of a Transylvanian Bandstand." The show featured dancers like American Bandstand and local bands and performers. The big difference between Zach and Dick Clark was that the Cool Ghoul emceed the show in costume. He also performed his crazy routines and experiments, sometimes using the kids from the audience as straight men. The show was popular but frustrating because in the early days of UHF TV, reception could be poor. Many fans gave up watching the show because of subpar picture quality. The show ended in 1967.

Radio Debut
During the fall of 1967, Sunday morning listeners of progressive radio station WNEW-FM, were treated to Zacherley's New York radio debut. Word spread quickly and Zach was soon given his own daily program. During this period, Zach often donned his frock coat and makeup to host a Halloween party or horror film premiere. For example, Zach donned full makeup and costume during 1968 to host and emcee the New York premiere of the science fiction film, Green Slime.

During 1970, Zacherle moved to WPLJ-FM, the most popular of the progressive radio stations. During the fall of 1970, Zach hosted a Halloween radio show which featured horror rock and novelty songs from a variety of sources including Zach's own record album.

Zach: FM Zach stayed with FM until 1980, when he retired because of frustration over format restrictions. During the late 1970's Zach appeared in costume on the The Mike Douglas Show (1976), where he performed a funny skit with Douglas, and The Tom Snyder Show (1978), where the old amoeba bit proceeded to shock and repulse Snyder.

In 1980, Zach hosted the Halloween parade and costume contest at the Woodbridge Center Shopping Mall in New Jersey. The same night he guested on WNEW radio and gave a Halloween performance. Also, during the early 1980's, Zach turned up in a straight acting role on Captain Kangaroo, portraying a wizard in an Aladdin presentation. In 1981, Zach played a horror host in the film, Geek Maggot Bingo.

WOR-TV ad Zach Is Back!!
The August, 1982, issue of the popular magazine, Fangoria, featured an excellent article on Zacherle and a draft Zacherle campaign designed to get Zach back on television.

Amazingly, that's what happened. Zach was chosen to host WOR-TV - Channel 9's 3D presentation of Gorilla At Large. Zach appeared in costume in a sparse set, and included a funny bit whereby he attempts to create a mate for Mighty Joe Young, Jr. When the attempt fails, Joe Jr. tries to make it with Isobel with hilarious results. Joe Young Jr. also figured in a funny 1959 WOR skit whereby Zach attempted to remove a soccer ball from Joe's stomach so that he could resume playing for the Transylvania University soccer team. It seems that Zach was attempting to not only save Joe's scholarship but the season for T.U. Zach often waves a red and white Transylvania University pennant around during his skits and it turns out he originally got the banner from the real life school which is located in the U.S.

During the fall of 1982, Zach appeared in concert with the 60 piece Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Peter Nero. Originally, they tried to get Vincent Price for the Halloween event, but when he was busy, they contacted Zach. He said at the time, "I did it in full costume and really hammed it up. It turned out to be a lot of fun. I recited some pieces by Edgar Allan Poe including 'The Raven."'

During 1982, Zach also appeared on Saturday Night Live and The Uncle Floyd Show, as well as making several live appearances during Halloween week.

During 1983, Zacherle appeared on a series of WOR-TV anniversary promos called WOR Remembers and also appeared on Entertainment Tonight in a segment about horror hosts.

Whose Voice Is That?
During the following year, Zacherle did voice overs for radio commercials for such clients as the Bide-a-Wee Home, and the American Association of Accountants and performed on an LP, The First Family Rides Again, which lampooned the Reagan presidency in much the same way that The First Family satirized JFK in 1962.

During 1983, Zacherley made a series of appearances for the Camera Corner, a chain of photography stores. Amazingly, the company misspelled his name as Zacharley and as Zack - "Tell 'em Zack sent you!" A series of promotional items including a life-sized cardboard standee were issued in conjunction with these ads.

On The Air Again
The year 1984 saw Zacherle's return to radio with his three hour Cool Ghoul Halloween radio special on WCBS-FM. The show became an annual event until 1992 when Zach moved to WXRK radio. He still does the Halloween show with a slightly altered format on WXRK.

Another project for Zach was the Crazy Nights TV pilot which featured Zacherle as the host and included among its guests, John Carradine and Vincent Price. The show, which was produced by Don Kirschner, was intended to run as a weekly hour-long show. Unfortunately, like many other worthy pilots, the show failed to sell even though it was touted in TV Guide and other publications.

The year 1985 did see Zacherle's full scale return to television with no less than three television specials: The 13th Hour (WHT), Zacherley's Halloween (WHT), and The Return Of RolandJoel Martin Show,; the entire hour of programming was dedicated to Zach's career. These specials showed the Zacherle was still in good form, especially the Roland program in which Zach hosted the film Moon Of The Wolf (WCAU). Zach also appeared on the nationally syndicated and returned to the same set that he occupied in 1957-1958.

During this period, Zach appeared live occasionally at New York area clubs including Danceteria where he performed his records with a rock band, and The Dive where he was joined by the star of The Blob; Earl Rowe.

What Next, Video?
The year 1986 saw the release of Zach's first and only pre-recorded VHS video tape, Horrible Horrors. The video, which attempts to recreate the look and feel of vintage Shock Theatre programs was released by the Goodtime Video company and sold for $9.95. It was hoped that this video would be the first of many similar prerecorded videos. However, to date, no sequel has been issued.

Zach also cut a new song in 1986 called "Overdrawn at the Bloodbank" for a local producer named Andy Zwerling. Unfortunately,this cassette only production had limited distribution and failed to reach it's potential audience.

During the late 1980's, Zach kept busy with the occasional personal appearance such as 1985's Creation Convention and occasional television guest shots including Good Day, New York (Fox), WPIX 40th Anniversay, and Live On City Live (WCAU Philadelphia).

In 1987, Zach hosted a one hour Friday The 13th special on MTV and journeyed back to Philadelphia to participate in Roland's 30th Anniversary and to host the BBC movie, Frankenstein.

At this time, the Zacherley At Large newsletter was established and continues publishing to this day.Continued . . . Page 9

During 1988, Zacherle made an appearance on fellow horror hostess, "Stella's", Philadelphia show. The horrible pair teamed up to emcee a double feature. The same year saw the publication of Gordon Guy's biography ZACHERLE!, which is still available from the publisher. Zach also gave two live appearances at Dowling College in Long Island. Both shows were taped by promoter/film historian Jim Knusch and an entertaining video of the event was released.

During 1989, Zach was involved in another pilot called Z-TV. This one had an interesting premise and the benefit of great effects and an eerie set. Zach inherits an old movie theater. The projection room where Zach lives came complete with a fully appointed vintage laboratory. Isabol and Gasport are on hand and so is Dok, a dragon-like creature and Wendy, a beautiful alien. The producers, Rich Schiaffo and Jeff Bianchi are still attempting to find a spot for this show on cable TV.

More recently, Zach was involved in an anniversary reunion of the Disco Teen cast and crew. The event, held "At the Hop" in Clifton, N.Y., was taped and became an entertaining part of the basic Zacherle Video Library.

The Nineties - Filmland
During the early 1990's Zacherle got involved in two Frank Hennenlotter films. The first was Brain Damage, which utilized Zach's voice for the alien, Elmer. Zach then portrayed a weatherman in the satire, Frankenhooker.

He's The Most Chiller, Happenin' Host
During 1990, Zach signed on with Chiller Productions to host their twice yearly conventions. Promoter Kevin Clement, a long time Zacherle fan, wanted to make certain that Zach would always have access to his public and vice versa. These conventions, which are held in New Jersey, have been very successful events and Zach has entertained his legion of fans energetically in a variety of ways.

Fans can expect anything from live musical performances to screenings of vintage Shock Theatre programs. Zacherle has an open invitation to appear at the Chiller Theatre Expos each season and hasn't missed one yet.

One of Zach's collaborators at the Chiller Theatre Expos is Mike Gilks, a Long Island musician, whose goal is to produce a hit compact disc of Zacherle's music. Gilks has thus far released two novelty cassettes with each featuring two songs. It is hope that we'll see a full compact disc album in the very near future.

Today . . .
Besides recording, television, and live appearances, Zach appears on radio station WXRK where he occupies the Saturday morning slot with a nostalgic 1960's revival program. The station, K-Rock, is noted for being one of the highest rated in the New York area and includes among its on-air personalities several very popular disc jockeys.

There have also been several recent Zacherle collectibles, including two model kits, T-shirts, and a poster. Rumor has it that there will be a set of Zacherle trading cards soon.

After All The Years . . .
So, what does the future hold for John Zacherle? Anything's possible, but his fans keep hoping to see him back on television hosting horror films and doing what he does best. One thing seems certain, Zach (still energetic and talented in his early 80s) will probably never really retire.

So, Zach,
Goodnight . . .

Whatever You Are!!



ZACH IS BACK!

When Ghouls and Goblins and Creatures of the Night appear, rest assured that Zacherley is near!

Enter his world for some fun and a thrill, but do so carefully and of your own free will!



Happy Birthday, Zacherley!!

The Dungeon Gang here at the Zacherley website and all of the staff of Chiller Theatre Inc want to wish John Zacherle a happy 90th birthday!

Zach shares his birthday with fitness guru Jack Lalane who is 94, and Beverly Hillbillies star Donna Douglas who is 75.

We wish the best for our favorite horror host and hope he'll be with us for many years to come!



Disc-O-Teen



Many of the "Disc-O-Teen" kids went on to lead interesting lives. According to Semon-Krauss, one manages ex-Beatle Pete Best and another married a member of the British rock band Procol Harum. Richard Scrivani of Bergenfield wrote a memoir titled "Good Night, Whatever You Are! My Journey With Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul," which was published by Dynoship in 2006.
In 1970, Domaniecki won the regional "Miss American Vampire" contest held at Palisades Amusement Park to promote "House of Dark Shadows" (the first of two movies based on the Gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows"). All regional winners were flown to Los Angeles for the final competition on Regis Philbin's show there.
According to Domaniecki, she and a fellow finalist, Sacheen Littlefeather, were paired up as hotel roommates during the "Miss American Vampire" finals. Littlefeather won the contest; three years later, she made headlines for rejecting an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando over a standoff between authorities and activists at Wounded Knee, S.D.

Show canceled

According to Joe LoRe, former cameraman for "Disc-O-Teen," the show was canceled when Channel 47 switched to a Spanish-language format.
As for the time Jim Morrison stumbled around the "Disc-O-Teen" dance floor, many former dancers recall that Zacherle conducted a bizarre interview with the Doors singer (who died at age 27 in 1971).
One witness was Marsha Silvestri of Jersey City.
"We assumed they (The Doors) were stoned," Silvestri says. "They were very spaced-out, especially Jim Morrison. Zach tried to interview him, and he hardly said a word. A lot of the kids thought it was strange."
"I don't remember that," Zacherle says with a laugh, "but everybody who was there tells me it happened that way, so it must be true. I just remember Jim Morrison walking by me in the middle of a dance. He said to me, "This is the damned-est show I ever saw in my life.' "

Zacherley Remembers 'Disc-o-Teen'!
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"It was three of the happiest years of my life," says John Zacherle who, for three years appeared on a New Jersey television station as the host of an afternoon dance show called Disc-o-Teen.

"Everyday I drove out to Newark to work at Channel 47. It was a UHF station which meant that back then hardly anyone got to see it."

Zach ended his hosting career in New York at WPIX-TV in 1964 bringing to end a career that began in Philadelphia in 1957 when John starred as the horror host Roland on Channel 10.

"I didn't know what I was going to do next. I'd finished my contract at Channel 11, and no renewal was coming."

Unemployment didn't last long. The Cool Ghoul was offered the job of hosting Disc-o-Teen. It was a live dance show airing every weekday afternoon after school. It featured live bands and dancers very similar to Dick Clark's American Bandstand.

"I'd been on Dick Clark's show a number of times. I got to host a few episodes. Then we went on a bus tour bringing the show to different cities for a while. I felt up to the challenge."

The Cool Ghoul loved rock and roll. What really made him take the job was being able to host the show as Zacherley because John owned the character. He brought along Gasport and My Dear as well.

"It was really experimental. The producers gave me a lot of flexibility. We'd try something. If it didn't work we wouldn't do it again."

Fridays were theme days when the visitors (student dancers) would dress up depending on what the theme was. One Friday was gangster day, another was Roman toga day.

"I met a lot of wonderful kids. I still keep in touch with some of them. They held a reunion a few years ago, and it was wonderful seeing everyone again."

Two of Zach's close friends were regulars on the show. Richard Scrivani, who was a big fan and supplied the photos for this article, was at the show almost every day. Another regular was Michael Thomas who came dressed up as the Frankenstein monster. He later became a professional make-up artist.


"It was a wonderful three years, but then all good things have to end."

On the last day of the show Zach allowed the kids to write messages all over his white station wagon. The security guard didn't understand and was ready to make some arrests when Zach explained that it was okay for the kids to do that.

At a recent Chiller Theatre Expo Zach had a real treat. Ray Manzarek of the Doors stopped by his table for a chat. He remembered being on Disc-o-Teen and wanted to thank Zach for the great time that he and the other Doors members had had.






TV horror-host John Zacherley's "Disc-O-Teen" 1967 Halloween dance party episode, featuring an appearance by The BOX TOPS. Alex Chilton and the band don't actually perform, but their hit single "The Letter" is played twice during the dance show. The band endures Zach's jibes, including lessons on how to flirt with teenage girls from New Jersey. The Box Tops chat it up with the horror-host while they plug their album, an upcoming European tour and a show at the Cheetah Club in NYC! Happy Halloween!! 1

Zach1_3 During my father's term as Program Director for WPLJ-FM (1974–1988) I was privileged to spend time in the halls and studios of what for much of that time was New York's #1 album rock station. It was a young music freak's fantasy: I got promo LPs, attended concerts for free, and sat in on live broadcasts. My favorite DJs to hang with were always Carol Miller and John Zacherle.

Zacherley Zacherle (aka Zacherley) had been a TV horror-film host in ghoul makeup for most of the 1950s and early 60s (there are several clips on YouTube), and in the early days of FM's popularity he was an innovator of free-form radio, when WPLJ was called WABC-FM. Though PLJ's programming was fairly structured by the late 1970s, the form was still much freer than the computerized formats seen on the commercial FM band today.

Every Halloween, WPLJ would let Zach become a ghoul again and program his own show (he would also occasionally don his makeup and entertain at staff parties.) One year, I'm guessing '77 or '78, I sat in the cramped studio on Halloween watching Zacherle make radio magic. My love of horror films and rock music reached critical mass that night. At the age of 60, Zacherle was super cool and probably more up on things than many of his younger colleagues. I remember that he played something from the Dead Boys' first LP and also held up a copy of Pink Floyd's Ummagumma and said, "Billy, have you heard this one?"

Zach2 During that time, Zach also presented me with copies of his two 1960 novelty singles, "Dinner With Drac" and "Coolest Little Monster"—below are all four sides as mp3s. (Except for the comic masterpiece "Hurry Bury Baby," these songs are available on CD and are presented here just for fun, in-browser listening.)

As the 70s became the 80s, radio formats tightened, mic styles became zippier and much of the old guard at WPLJ were being replaced or moving to less-commercial stations. In the post-disco era, FM had become the dominant force of music delivery, with a narrower presentation. I know that it was one of the saddest days of my Dad's life when he had to let John Zacherle go. Zach, now 90, still does Halloween radio (most recently on WCBS-FM) and continues to be an inveterate hipster and a cool ghoul.

Dinner With Drac
Hurry Bury Baby
Coolest Little Monster
Ring-a-Ding Orangutan



Awesome. The Doors made their first TV appearance on Disco-Teen. Of course, the tape is erased. Nice goin' 47. Erase history to save a little money.

No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express over the weekend. :)

Wow! This brings back memories! I was the drummer in "The Coachmen." We won a band contest on Disco Teen. The prize: We opened for The Rolling Stones at Symphony Hall in Newark, NJ! I was like 15 years old!! The kids in the audience knew us from the show and screamed and asked for autographs! I remember Zacherley back stage as a consummate gentleman. Thanks, Zacherley, for the thrill of a lifetime!

Supposedly there is ONE MORE disco-teen that was preserved, but no one has posted it yet!

What an incredible find -- and the tape is in such great shape after 41 years! "The Letter" was The Box Tops' first of ten hits and reached #1 in the fall of 1967. Amazingly, after it, the group members were not allowed by their label to play on their hits! On disc, they were replaced in the studio by session musicians! Only lead singer Alex Chilton actually performed on "Cry Like A Baby," "Soul Deep" or the other Box Tops classics. As for Zach, his "Dinner With Drac" reached #6 in 1958.

And of course, after "Disc-O-Teen" ended, WNJU moved more towards becoming a Spanish-language outlet. As to the cameras used on the program, they were RCA TK-60's.
ZIPPTPH77 (1 week ago) Show Hide

Disc-O-Teen "Last Show"

Disc-O-Teen was a daily live teen dance show hosted by the famous, "Cool Ghoul" Zacherley. Only two programs remain of the over 700 that aired in the New York City metro area from 1965 to 1967. This black and white, one hour show, was billed as the "Two and a Half Year Anniversary Show" but was actually the last Disc-O-Teen program aired on New York City's first commercial UHF television station, WNJU-TV Channel 47. Guests on the show included recording artists "EMS" (Come On Down To My Boat Baby). As a very young staff engineer and camera operator I was able to salvage the last two programs that were recorded on two inch video tape. After 40 years I have been successful in re mastering this program in its entirety to DVD.


YMA SUMAC EST MORTE...