Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bob Wilkins 40TH Anniversary Of His TV Debut On Saturday Nights, Today!

Before The Internet. Before The 500 Channel Cable TV. Before "Mad TV", And Before "Saturday Night Live", There was a quirky little show on saturday nights hosted by a young man who wore Horn Rimmed Glasses, had a cigar, sitting in a rocking chair showing Horror and SciFi Movies. It was 40 years ago today, that Bob Wilkins debuted on KCRA Channel 3, Sacramento, on a Saturday Night at 11:00PM, following the 15 minute "Newsbeat". It was a double feature consisting of "Attack Of The Mushroom People" and "Attack Of The Giant Leeches". Prior to this double feature, Bob worked at KCRA Channel 3 in their advertising department as well as writing lines for his best friend and fellow employee, Harry Martin, for his afternoon movie show: "Valley Playhouse". Bob also hosted the annual KCRA Employee Christmas Party. KCRA's then P.D., Tom Breen, thought very highly of Bob and thought he would be perfect as a host of a late night TV show featuring a variety of Horror and SciFi Movies, they had acquired. Tom lent Bob a 16mm copy of "Attack Of The Mushroom People", to give Bob an idea of what the show would be. Bob was said to be bewildered at the movie and how awful it was. Horror Movie TV Hosts have been around since 1957, when the "Shock Theatre" package, first came out and there were many different Horror Movie TV Hosts like "Zacherley", "Terrance" and "Vampira", All the hosts dressed as Vampires, Ghouls and Monsters but not Bob. He just appeared as himself. Since Bob spent most of his time at KCRA, behind the scenes, he was a bit nervous in front of the camera, so to ease his nervousness, he held a cigar and rocked in his rocking chair. On this particular show on September 10 at 11:00PM, Bob leafed through the TV Guide and suggested that the viewers should check out the movie on KOVR Channel 13 (Then ABC Affiliate) instead. Well I was a bit curious at what type of movie that Bob wanted the viewers to watch instead of his show, so I looked up the September 10-16, 1966 issue of TV Guide (via the Public Library Microfilm) which was the "Fall Preview Issue". Well, according to the TV Guide, At that time (11:00PM) the news was on KOVR, however at 11:30PM, they did show a 1953 Comedy Movie with the title, "Latin Lover" starring Ricardo Montalbaun and Lana Turner. No wonder the audience decided to keep their TV set on KCRA to watch "Attack Of The Mushroom People". Also I was curious on what other shows, viewers could have watched instead of Bob. KXTV Channel 10 (Then CBS Affiliate) was in the midst of showing a Pro Football Game (Colts vs Packers) that had started at 9:30PM, KVIE Channel 6 (Then NET Affiliate) signed off the air earlier that evening and the area's only Independent UHF TV Station, KLOC Channel 19 Modesto, which had signed on the air on August 15 of that same year, had just signed off at 11:00PM after showing the TV show rerun, "The Naked City". So before Cable, That was all you can recieve without a very good aerial antenna to pick up the Bay Area Stations, so there wasn't much of a choice. Much has been discussed about Bob's first movie, "Attack Of The Mushroom People" but not his other movie of the double feature, "Attack Of The Giant Leeches", which I think is a much worst movie than "Attack Of The Mushroom People". I don't know who was Bob's guests was on his first show, But over the years on KCRA, Bob had Harry Martin as well as a young man named Gary Tomsic who made amateur 8mm and 16mm movies which he also showed on Bob's show. Tom Breen's gamble had paid off and KCRA did well for that time slot (which later changed from 11:00PM to 11:15 to 11:30 and occaisionally later at Midnight), which caused KXTV to start showing "Boris Karloff's Thriller" TV Show as well as showing an occaisional Horror Movie. Tom Breen would later duplicate this formula in 1971 at KTVU Channel 2 Oakland with "Creature Features", but with bigger success (probably due to the earlier time slot of 9:30PM). From now on, every week on this day, I will post the titles of the movies that Bob has shown for that particular evening. Tomorrow, a more in depth look at the first movie that jumpstarted Bob's career at showing Horror And SciFi Movies on Saturday Nights: "Attack Of The Mushroom People".

1 comment:

Modestan said...

Bob Wilkins was the subject of discussion in regards to a 70's Toyota commercial. A cartoon character with black horn rim glasses, suit and a cigar asked about a Corolla....Sounds like the cross between a vampire and a cigar.

Although there were news accounts which denied the association and called it a coincidence.

Could such a unique personality be a coincidence??