MICHIGAN HORROR SHOW HOSTS #6: The Ghoul, 1971 – 1980’S
Back in the 1950’s, when movie studios like Universal, Paramount, Columbia, and MGM began selling their movie catalogs to television, the most popular package was Universal’s “Classic Horror” films. You know the ones; Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, and all the other spin-offs, sequels, and one-shots. TV audiences – especially the kids – couldn’t get enough of these classic old horror films, so the need for a wrap-around was inevitable.
Thus was born the “Horror Show Host”, a male or female, usually dressed in some kind of scary garb, hosting the evening’s fright flicks and doing shtick between film segments. Puns abounded, making the audience groan, but they loved every second of it.
What can be said about The Ghoul that hasn't already been said?
The Ghoul (Ron Sweed) remains one of the most popular Michigan TV personalities.
The Ghoul began his late-night horror film hosting in 1971, filling the shoes of Ernie Anderson, who was horror host "Ghoulardi" in Cleveland. Ernie split for California in 1966, becoming one of the busiest announcers on TV, doing voice-overs for commercials and ABC-TV programs.
After Ernie consented to let Sweed carry on with the character, "The Ghoul" finally debuted on Cleveland station WKBF. However, The Ghoul was not the hip, beatnik guy that Ghoulardi was...he went way too many steps further: smearing Cheez Whiz on everything, blowing up stuff with cherry bombs and M-80's, a shark fin swimming in his toilet, ripping & tearing things to shreds, and more, including the sadistic abuse he gave his rubber puppet pal Froggy (SEE PHOTOS AND VIDEO CLIPS BELOW!).
During the movies, he'd add in his own sound effects, including belches, burps, etc. and played Rock 'n Roll records in and out of his host segments.
Detroit TV station WKBD Channel 50 added the show to their lineup in the early 70's and it soon became the most popular late-night show in the area.
And the audience ate it up.
Of course, there were some parents out there who wrote letters of complaint. The suits at WKBD couldn't handle the complaints (which were small compared to the massive audience who loved the show) but canceled the show anyway in 1975. But The Ghoul was soon back, on Detroit's WXON TV-20. He also showed up on Channel 61.
After on-and-off the air several times in Michigan (and Cleveland), he returned to Cleveland TV and stayed there from 1988-1994.
Ron Sweed made many personal appearances throughout his 'Ghoul' career, with his final live appearance in 2015. After suffering a massive heart attack in October / November 2018, Ron passed away - appropriately - on April Fool's Day, 2019.
I had The Ghoul on my local TV show a few times and he was always gracious, always 'The Ghoul', and always funny.
Michigan TV will probably never see his like again.
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