Dr. Paul Bearer: The Lost Photographs – Part 1
February 2008 marks the unholy thirteenth anniversary of the passing of one of America’s most beloved and longest running horror hosts, Dr. Paul Bearer. This past Christmas, while digging around at my parent’s house, I stumbled upon a small cache of photographs that I had completely forgotten even existed. In my younger days, in the antiquated times of pre-digital photography, I always carried a small disc camera with me because it fit neatly in my shirt pocket. It didn’t take the best photos and film for it became unavailable after about five years but at least it was something. To mark this anniversary, I would like to spend the final two weeks of this month sharing some of my 35mm color memories and a few other tidbits with you.
First up is this awesome screen grab (right, top) from the original opening segment of The 44 Creature Feature! Long time fans will remember that for many years the program opened with a wonderful slide show filled with tinted stills of classic monsters. As these horror legends were paraded across the screen, a creepy voice would welcome us to the show. Over the years, the opening was revamped several times, most notably with the title change to Dr. Paul Bearer Presents, but none of these revisions came anywhere close to capturing the charm of the original!
Ever wonder what was playing on Channel 44 on Saturday, July 27, 1974? Well the clipping on your left from the television guide in the Ocala Star Banner newspaper will tell you. During one of my bouts of research into the files of my hometown newspaper, I stumbled across this listing from the July 27 – August 2, 1974 edition. Back then, all of the network stations were listed together on individual days but independent station WTOG 44 got their own page with the entire week’s programming on it. In 1974, their lineup included Lost in Space, Underdog, Star Trek, and Combat. Damn, I miss those days!
Moving along to the real gold I struck back in December, here is yours truly in front of the famous hearse! I am standing in the driveway of Dr. Paul Bearer’s Lakeland home in August of 1991. This was the day that I conducted the now classic Lost Interview with Dick Bennick. According to the notes I still have, this was a Thursday and we were to meet him there at 3PM. I honestly had no idea at the time how historic that interview was going to become.
This is a scan from the issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland that Dick Bennick presented me with during the interview. He was a huge fan of the magazine and got the publishers to give him enough back issues to complete his collection. I was a huge fan of Dr. Paul Bearer and got him to autograph this copy. Not only did he sign it, but he even thanked me for interviewing him! The full inscription reads “To Ed Tucker, Thanks for the interview, Horribly Yours, Dr. Paul Bearer”. What a guy!
The photo to the right is from a birthday celebration Cyprus Garden’s did for Dick Bennick. As Dr. Paul Bearer, he was always doing promotional work for the tourist attraction and even had his own stage show at one point called the Swamp Critter Review.
That should be enough rare photographs to feast your eyes on for this round Fright Fans. Coming next week will be never before seen pictures from the Lost Interview and the award presentation at the 1991 Necronomicon!