The Wank Section

The Wank Section for arts and entertainment


September 27, 2013

September 20, 2013

September 19, 2013

R.I.P. Jerry Bishop. Here are some clips of Chicago’s beloved original Svengoolie appearing on his early ’70s UHF cult classic Screaming Yellow Theater with the World’s Most Foremost Authority Professor Irwin Corey.

Jerry Bishop, the original Svengoolie, dead at 77

By Lauren Zumbach Tribune reporter
8:44 p.m. CDT, September 17, 2013

In a more than 40-year career as radio and TV host, Jerry G. Bishop won three Emmys and toured with the Beatles, but he may be best remembered as the original Svengoolie.

Mr. Bishop hosted “Screaming Yellow Theater,” a horror-film show on WFLD-Ch. 32 from 1970 to 1973, as the coffin-dwelling hippie with a wacky sense of humor. His character has a devoted following to this day, family and former colleagues said.

“He was making really creative TV on almost no budget,” said Wally Podrazik, curator at Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications. “I’d call Jerry G. Bishop the master of the non sequitur and running gag. Not just as Svengoolie, but as a radio DJ with a superb timing and a sense of unabashed silliness.”

Mr. Bishop wasn’t the first to host a horror-movie show, but he attracted a devoted following, said Rich Koz, Mr. Bishop’s co-writer and protege who inherited the Svengoolie role.

“The material was so fun, people liked the character, and it still had a really local feel,” Koz said.”He was an incredibly talented, generous man.”

Mr. Bishop, 77, a resident of San Diego, died of a heart attack Sunday, Sept. 15, at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center, according to family members.

He was born Jerry Ghan in Chicago on Aug. 3, 1936, and graduated from Wright City College, the University of Illinois and Columbia College, then got his start in radio at the former WNMP in Evanston in 1962. Within a few years, he was a popular nighttime DJ at Cleveland’s KYW who traveled with the Beatles during their 1965 and 1966 U.S. tours.

He returned to Chicago in 1967 to lead WCFL’s morning radio show and moved to WFLD-TV in 1969. A year later, the show that introduced Svengoolie was born. He saw the role as a great vehicle for comedy, even though he didn’t particularly like horror films, Koz said.

Mr. Bishop’s daughter, Melissa Moore, said she loved watching her father’s show as a child.

“A lot of that shtick was improvised, and I know he was really proud of that,” Moore said. “He had a natural silliness that made it work. I watch it today, and it still makes me laugh.”

Though “Screaming Yellow Theater” was canceled in 1973, Mr. Bishop’s character lived on. Koz, who landed a spot writing for the show after mailing Mr. Bishop ideas for jokes, launched the “Son of Svengoolie” TV series in 1979 and continued to play Svengoolie — with Mr. Bishop’s blessing — ever since. He still uses some of their original jokes, including frequent mocking references to Berwyn and flocks of flying rubber chickens. In 2011, Mr. Bishop — as his character — was inducted into the Horror Host Hall of Fame.

Mr. Bishop moved to San Diego in 1978 to host the “Sun Up San Diego” weekday morning talk show and won three Emmy awards in his 13 years as host.

Though proud of Svengoolie and “Sun Up San Diego,” Koz said, Mr. Bishop referred to the 1960s as a “magical time” in radio. “Talented DJs were given the time and freedom to do entertaining comedy that stricter formats no longer allow,” Koz said.

After he retired — he last worked on WRLL’s “Real Oldies” weekend radio show from 2003 to 2006, Koz said — he continued helping run the family’s two San Diego restaurants, both of which had links to the city he loved, his daughter said. Greek Islands Cafe was named after Chicago’s Greek Islands restaurant and Asaggio Pizza served Chicago-style deep dish and sported Cubs-themed decor.

Mr. Bishop was also active in Easter Seals and hosted several fundraising telethons, Moore said.

He is also survived by his wife of 49 years, Liz; a son, Christopher; and a granddaughter.

September 18, 2013

September 13, 2013

Kol Nidre

September 9, 2013

Without making any effort on my part, I managed to encounter quite a lot of hype about some sort of blue performance by Miley Cyrus. I never saw any of it until I was aboard the starship Enterprise, looking for new forms of life. Mission accomplished.

September 5, 2013

Here’s a provocative speech from a conference Doc Sapphire B, Lee Dynamo, and I attended together.

“This is a moment in which every one of us, every individual, must relieve himself from all the otherness, and wear just the robe of humanity. We need to live the human values.”–Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish

September 4, 2013

Shana Tova

As sundown approaches with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year,  and Days of Awe leading to the Day of Atonement, in the spirit of mending the world, inclusion, repentance, and renewal… I give you this contribution from Dan E.

I met him at an Anti-Apartheid Rally in 1985. In 2004, he drove from Texas to volunteer at a Voter Registration program I was directing in Jacksonville, Florida.


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