November 1, 2016
John Zacherle died, having just turned 98, on Thursday, October 27, a few days short of Halloween, a holiday he essentially personified.
First as Roland out of Philadelphia, and more famously as Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul, in New York, he was a pioneering TV Horror Host. He was among those who introduced the Universal Classics to the first generation of Monster Kids. He was a revelator and, through the years, he remained a touchstone, a direct link back to one’s own adolescence and our love of monsters. For those of us who never had the privilege of seeing him as a TV Host, we learned about him from Famous Monsters magazine and his horror-themed novelty records. Right to the end, he was proud of his accomplishments and still wore his long undertaker’s coat to convention appearances.
Zacherle had not seen the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN until he introduced the film on his show. He would go on to present most of the Universal Frankensteins over the years, and he would go on to a cameo as a TV weatherman in a Frankenstein film, Frank Henenlotter’ FRANKENHOOKER (1990).
To understand Zacherley’s impact and enduring importance, I urge you to read David Colton’s touching tribute on the Classic Horror Film Board.
See Zacherley in action on YouTube.
Here is an obituary from The New York Times.