Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my fondness for bad movies and for movie host shows. The bad movie subculture and the realm of movie hosts have always walked hand in hand with many movie hosts even appearing in various schlock film classics during their careers. Here is a salute to some of the most influential figures who made hosting bad and/or weird movies the time-honored American folk art it is today.
7. MAD MARVIN (Real name: Terry Bennett)
Program: Shock Theatre
Run: 1957 – 1959
Home Base: Chicago
Comment: Long before Jerry Bishop’s more well-known host Svengoolie and his even more famous “son” played by Rich Koz, Mad Marvin brought late-night b-movie fun to the Windy City. Marvin was a mad beatnik and was described in contemporary accounts as ” a combination of Charles Addams, Ernie Kovacs and Jack Paar.” Bennett’s program was so popular in Chicago that celebrities like Continue reading
Chicago’s own Mad Marvin (Terry Bennett) was part of the First Wave of B-Movie Hosts and Hostesses of the 1950s. From 1957 to 1959 Terry (joined by his wife Joy soon after the show launched) entertained the Windy City late on Saturday nights with that metropolis’ version of Shock Theater.
Described as a “Mad Beatnik” and a “Mad Hipster”, Bennett’s Mad Marvin character had a macabre sense of humor that has made him a legend with Movie Host fans. In fact, television station management in Chicago and from around the country soon realized that, as with the likes of Vampira and Zacherley, audiences were tuning in just as much (if not more) to watch the antics of Mad Marvin as they were to watch the movies.
Bennett’s most over-the -top stunt involved him pretending to swallow poison on the air, then describing his body’s reaction to the potent potable (for you Jeopardy fans) as he acted like he was genuinely dying. The notoriety from this morbid joke caused the ratings to skyrocket. In a way, Mad Marvin was like a forerunner of the radio Shock Jocks of later decades.
That legendary incident and many other ghoulish gags, many of which centered around Continue reading