I never had the pleasure of watching a live SHOCK THEATER program hosted by the "Cool Ghoul", Roland/Zacherley. I was on the west coast, so I had horror hosts like Dr. Diablo and The Old Woman during the same period.
Roland/Zacherle/Zacherley is perhaps, outside of the voluptuously-commercialized Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, the best known of the horror hosts. It is said that his friend, Dick Clark, gave him the nickname, "The Cool Ghoul", and it stuck.
John Zacherley passed away last week. He was 98 years old. Assuredly, he had a full life in the entertainment industry, and when he was done with that, he remained very active in the convention circuit. He was well known for his friendly demeanor and of course, his sense of humor.
When Universal's SHOCK! horror film package was leased by Screen Gems, it was Zacherley who was the first to host the TV show, SHOCK THEATER. Others followed, but Zach was the first, and most say, the best (Vampira/Maila Nurmi was the first TV horror host, but this was before the SHOCK! package was released).
Not long after the success of SHOCK THEATER, publisher James Warren and editor/agent Forrest J Ackerman teamed up to create the first, regularly published monster magazine, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. SHOCK! was covered in the very first issue, and issue #2 covered, among other horror hosts, Zacherley. In issue #4 Zach was featured in his very own article. As a result, FM contributed to the obsession that became known as "Monster Mania" in the 1960s.
|FAMOUS MONSTERS #4 cover art by Albert Nuetzell.|
|FAMOUS MONSTERS #7 cover art by Albert Nuetzell.|
|FAMOUS MONSTERS #7 was the first issue to sell the 6' Zach poster.|
|FAMOUS MONSTERS #15 cover art by Basil Gogos.|