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Shock Theatre

Bob Mills with Raquel Tejada

Bob Mills on "Sun-Up" in San Diego. He created "Sun Up" at KOTV. Weather girl Raquel Tejada was later known as Raquel Welch.

(from Guestbook 1) Steve L. said:

I am a little older than most of the people posting here so my early memories of Tulsa TV will be a bit farther back than some of you. Does anyone remember "Shock Theatre" with Igor...(it) was on KOTV in the late 50s, if memory serves.

It featured sci-fi movies from the 40s and 50s. Lots of old horror movies.

(from Guestbook 1) Don Lundy said:

The host was Bob Mills, who also worked the "Sun Up" program. Bob worked for me in San Diego and, sadly, passed away last year.

Lee Woodward, Bob Hower and Bob Mills, courtesy of Lee

Lee Woodward, Bob Hower and Bob Mills in the 1990s. Lee also hosted "Sun Up" in the early 60s and occasionally played sidekick Hornstaff to Mills' Igor on "Shock Theatre". Bob Hower started on KOTV; when he moved to San Diego, he hired away Bob Mills. (Photo courtesy of Lee)

(from Guestbook 86) Don Norton said:

Until the last few years I had always heard that "Sun Up" originator Bob Mills "discovered" Raquel Welch when he took himself and the "Sun-Up" show to San Diego. Lately two or three others have claimed to have been her "discoverer," and, of course, Bob is now dead and can't dispute this.

I don't claim to know "the truth" on this, but I DO know that Bob scoured Tulsa for good-looking girls to come in and read temperatures on Sun-Up while he was here...and he came up with some nifties!

(from Guestbook 107 and 203) Lee Woodward said:

On Shock Theater, Bob Mills featured people who would paint false eyes on their lower chin along with a beard just above the upper lip etc. and then the engineers would electronically turn this image upside down and the person would either talk or sing a song. It could be pretty amusing depending on the makeup. I don't know who started this idea?

(from Guestbook 84) The webmaster said:

We know a bit about KOTV's "Shock Theatre". It signed on in October 1957, was on at 10:30 p.m. Saturday nights and lasted a couple of years; Bob Mills (real name: Robert A. Millisor) played "Igor, Your Ghost Host"; cameraman Leon Meier, Lee Woodward and others played Igor's assistant, "Hornstaff", outfitted in rubber masks from Ehrle's Party Barn...

Leon "Lon" Meier, cuurtesy of Mike Bruchas
#1 Hornstaff, cameraman Leon Meier (pic by Mike Bruchas)


Booga booga!
Hornstaff mask, courtesy of Halloween-Mask.com

(via email, 3/12/2006) Lee Woodward said of the mask pictured above:

That is the one, the only, Hornstaff! I can't imagine that it is still around; amazing. The only difference was that there was some fake hair glued to the top. It was originally supposed to be a "Neanderthal." But they are one and the same.

Leon Meier from "Shock and claw" article on Bob Mills' makeup as Igor:

"Bob had this wire thing that ran from the corner of his mouth and hooked around his ear, so that it looked like a scar. We lit him from underneath, and everything was dark behind him, so it made him look ghostly. That's how he'd introduce the movie."

Shock and claw
10/31/2004 article by John Wooley from the Tulsa World

Tulsa's version of "Shock Theatre" was hosted by Bob Mills with cameraman Leon Meier (and occasionally, Lee Woodward) as 'Hornstaff'

The host of the Oklahoma City version of "Shock Theatre" was Count Gregore.

Excerpt from Dick Nitelinger's The Hosts of Horror about the "Shock!" movie package:

"In May of 1956, a showing of ("King Kong") in New York City was watched by an estimated 90% of homes with television sets. That caught the attention of a number of executives.

"Screen Gems, the television arm of Columbia, owned the TV rights to hundreds of old Universal films. It quickly assembled 52 into a package it called Shock!, which it released to television in October of 1957. Screen Gems ran a series of ads in Variety promoting the release, as well as the ratings increases seen by stations which ran the package. To promote the films, it supplied studios with a promotional kit, which encouraged all kinds of antics. The use of a 'host' was encouraged, and a number of stations elected to use them."

List of movies in "SHOCK!" and "SON OF SHOCK!" packages

at E-gor's Chamber of TV Horror Hosts (with photo of original promo kit)

By the late 1950s, Boris Karloff's persona had morphed from monster to grandfather: he hosted a radio show for children, playing records and reading bedtime stories.

A year after the release of "Shock!" and "Son of Shock!", Karloff found himself in demand again as an actor. In the 1960s, he worked in such disparate movies as "Die, Monster, Die!" (starring Nick Adams), "Bikini Beach", and a movie that bridged classic horror with the modern, "Targets" (directed by Peter Bogdanovich).

He appeared on many 60s TV series, including "I Spy", "The Wild, Wild West" and "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E." One episode of "Route 66" spoofed horror films and co-starred Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney, Jr.

The Shock!-wave of late night horror spawned several horror/fantasy series, including the early-60s NBC "Thriller" anthology series, hosted by Karloff. Here is a KVOO-TV billboard promoting it:

Boris Karloff featured on KVOO, Channel 2 billboard
Tulsa billboard for Boris Karloff's NBC "Thriller" series. It ran 1960-62.

Webmaster: Though I was too young to have seen KOTV's "Shock Theatre", I did receive a tertiary after-Shock! some forty years later.

In late February 1997, I was in Boston taking a computer class and happened to tune in a late-night showing of  "Thriller". The episode was "The Incredible Doktor Markesan", starring Boris himself and Dick York.

I don't know if it was being in a hotel room in a strange city, or simply the high quality of that episode, but it was horrifyingly effective.

'Shock and claw'    KOTV's "Sun-Up"

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