Monday, November 2, 2015

The All-American Ghoul: A MVP in Horror Host History.

On September 24 or 25 1964 a man wearing a University Tampa football uniform with a thirteen on the front, a Frankenstein mask, and the rest of a football uniform walked on to television screens for the first time to host a show called, “Shock Theater.” The name of the man playing the character was Paul Reynolds the character he was playing was Shock Armstrong a teenage ghoul. The show was televised on station WTVT Channel 13 the station served the Tampa / St. Petersburg, Florida area. Before Paul Reynolds became a teenage ghoul, he was a veteran announcer at the WTVT channel 13 station. 

He became a horror host just like many at that time did. Paul’s boss at the station gave him the costume and told him he was going to host the show as a teenage ghoul. The character’s appearance was given to him but he was able to shape the character and add his own personality. In the beginning of the show Armstrong didn’t do much talking. He would just grunt and make noises. He would break items in between the breaks of the show.  The show was filmed on a set dressed to look like a teenage ghoul’s room.  When the show started it wasn’t popular due to Armstrong not speaking and his limited interaction with the audience. The rates would change when Armstrong started to talk and interact with the audience. Also there were two characters that were added to “Shock Theater.”  They were Armstrong's mother, which yelled at him to clean his room and also an annoying neighbor. These new characters would not be seen on camera they would be off camera roles. 

Armstrong would go strong on the show for three years. During those three years he would perform jokes, skits, and gags.  But the future of the show would come in question on April of 1967. Management wanted to cancel the show in order to replace it with the Joey Bishow’s talk show. But the unexpected outcry and protest outside of the station by fans to bring the show back on. Lead the programmers, to come to the decision to bring back the show in order to stop the outcry from the public. The return of the show would only go on till it was cancelled again on January 26, 1968. The station would fire Paul and would lead to final time he would play the character. The show would continue on the station without a live host until it went off the air in 1974. After Paul left the show, it consisted of logos and after show credits. Paul would sadly pass away in 1996 and never play his character again. There seems to be no footage left from the show. The only items to help keep the legacy of Shock Armstrong going are some stills and promotional material from the show. The other thing that keeps his legacy is some of his young fans that remember watching him as kid. Now let’s hope that you will remember the All –American Ghoul and his legacy. Stay spooky my friends.  
Paul Reynolds the man Who would play Shock Armstrong

Paul Reynold in costume as Shock Armstrong on the messy ghoul room set.

Paul Reynold taking a break on the set.

Shock theater opening title card

 Picture is believed to be fans picketing Channel 13 station when the show
was canceled.

One of the opening cards from the show. After Paul was fired.

Behind the scene photo of how the opening card for the show.

Publicity photo from the show.

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