For northeast Ohioans who grew up in this area in the 1960s, the new TV production Turn Blue: The Short Life of Ghoulardi is an entertaining blast from the past. Ernie Anderson, who played Cleveland’s counter-culture media celebrity Ghoulardi, hosted WJW-TV’s late-night horror movies from 1963 to 1966 and was an incredible influence locally.
The one-hour production premiered on Western Reserve PBS in 2009. It earned two Emmy Awards, for directing and editing for producer Phil Hoffman.
Turn Blue is the work of award-winning producer/director Phil Hoffman, Ed.D., who also teaches radio and television courses at The University of Akron. It is the latest in a series of local history productions that Hoffman has created in cooperation with Western Reserve Public Media. The program has also aired on WGTE Public Media in Northeast Ohio.
“The process of creating this film began with my discovery of a book ‘Ghoulardi: Inside Cleveland TV’s Wildest Ride,'” Hoffman said. “Authors Rich Heldenfels and Tom Feran do an excellent job of making the case for Ghoulardi’s place in the pantheon of local TV hosts who had an impact on a generation of young minds weaned on TV during the 1960s.”
At WJW-TV 8, Ernie Anderson was working as an announcer when the station asked him to don a fright wig and serve as the host of a late-night horror movie series. Ghoulardi was born. Within just a few short weeks, Clevelanders were shouting phrases including “knif,” “Oxnard” and ” blue.” Anderson’s Ghoulardi would begin a local TV tradition that would continue with Hoolihan and Big Chuck and Little John Rinaldi well into the first decade of the new millennium.
Turn Blue chronicles Anderson’s wild ride on Cleveland TV and includes interviews with Heldenfels, Feran, “Big Chuck” Schodowski, Dick Goddard, Mark Dawidziak and many other colleagues and witnesses to the Ghoulardi phenomenon.
The world premiere of the production was held in 2009 at the annual Ghoulardifest, . More information about this event can be found at www.theghoulardifest.com. You can still meet Hoffman every year at the weekend of craziness.
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