Monday, September 25, 2006

In Memoriam: Eddie Driscoll

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWhile there were those of us in Maine who didn't know of him, Eddie Driscoll was an internationally-known TV personality and host who operated for many years out of Bangor, hosting shows which aired in locations elsewhere including a wide part of Canada. He passed away Saturday here in Portland.

I found out about Driscoll recently from Penny Dreadful, a Massachusetts horror host who discovered him when researching the history of horror hosts in New England for a documentary piece she is making. While Driscoll may not be considered by most to be a horror host, he was indeed of the same breed, and with glee and mischief he hosted his own strange show in Bangor on WLBZ, Weird, for many years, starting in 1954, and retiring in the late 80s.

In a WLBZ piece filmed after his death, clips are shown from several of his shows, including the intro to Weird which starts out with, "The journey you are about to take is.... WEIRD!" I only wish as a kid I had that to look forward to every weekend.
Long-time WLBZ Personality Eddie Driscoll Dies
Web Editor: Maureen O'Brien, Managing Editor
Created: 9/24/2006 9:43:01 AM
Updated: 9/24/2006 8:36:33 PMEddie Driscoll, host of the Bangor areas's first live children's program, died Saturday in Portland. He was 81 years old.
Eddie Driscoll was with WLBZ from the beginning, when the station signed on in 1954.

In his heyday in the 1960s, Driscoll hosted shows including "Weird," "Chef Eduardo," "The Great Money Movie," and "Mason Mutt." He was known for his quirky characters and offbeat skits.

Eddie Driscoll retired from television in 1986.

Driscoll had alzheimer's disease, and had been living at the Barron Center in Portland. He leaves behind his wife, Ruby, daughters Amanda and Wendy, and grandsons Tucker and Wilson.

Calling hours will be Saturday, September 30 from 12-1 at the Dolby and Dorr Funeral Chapel in Gorham. That will be followed by a celebration of Eddie's life from 1-2.
[ Source ]
More information about Eddie Driscoll can be found here, at The Genius of Eddie Driscoll, where Weird is discussed briefly:
In his books, author Stephen King mentions Eddie Driscoll and “Dialing for Dollars.” King was also a big fan of “Weird.” Late night on Saturday, Channel 2 would show some typically awful, lousy, horrible movie with live commercial breaks featuring Eddie. These breaks could be up to fifteen minutes long and were usually more entertaining than the movies. Members of the Air National Guard from nearby Dow Field joined Eddie for one “Weird” stunt. In the field behind the station, with volunteer service people, US government equipment, and fake ammo, Eddie created a live World War Two scene . Neighbors came out to see what all the commotion was about at eleven o’clock on a Saturday night. It was just Eddie Driscoll and his co-conspirators, making TV history.
Here's to the real entertainers. Here's to Eddie Driscoll, King of Weird TV.


Anonymous said...

Eddie was incredible. He was a one man entertainment machine, a throwback to the days of live tv and shoestring production costs. Me and my friends here in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada would watch him everyday for his "Great Money Movie" on WLBZ after school. He was a real "celebrity" - truly talented and funny, and never at a loss for words. I was terribly saddened to hear of his passing - we'll likely never see the likes of his kind again, as the medium of tv no longer tolerates character in it's relentless appetite for generic drivel to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

I'm 58, live in Waterville, Maine, and was one of those Baby Boomer kids who eagerly looked forward to watching Eddie Driscoll on "Weird" every Saturday night. Of course, I already knew about him from his sundry appearances on "Channel 2," but when he started Weird (actually, his first show was called "Shock Theater," in the fall of 1962), Eddie came into his own. I can distinctly remember the excitement of waiting for Weird. First, I had to slog through "Saturday Night at the Movies," which lasted for two hours, from 9 to 11. My mom loved those films, so I'd watch with her. Then, at 11, there used to be a show called "Rheingold Theater," sponsored by the beer. They usually ran obscure TV dramas from the late 50s and early 60s. Later, in the summer of 1965, this was replaced by repeats of The Outer Limits, also hosted by Eddie as a white haired, fright-wigged scientist! Then, at 12, the magic would begin. Depending on what character Eddie was playing, the opening of Weird would vary. His two most famous portrayals were "Krandl," a three-eyed Martian, and "Uncle Gory," who lived in a castle crypt. For Krandl, it would be an appropriately "outer space" theme, complete with strange electronic music. The intonations, "the journey you are about to take is WEIRD" was always spoken by Eddie off-camera. The scene would cut to Krandl's Martian spaceship, where Eddie would flounce out wearing a totally black body stocking, accompanied by his "skrootch gun." His headpiece consisted of a third forehead eye and two antenna. Great stuff. Uncle Gory would be in a crypt of sorts, with a Halloween skeleton shackled to the stone walls. He wore a vest, a black fright-wig, and told stories out of a huge book. I enjoyed Uncle Gory the most because (this was during the summer of 65) he showed all the Universal monster classics. All in all, Weird/Shock Theater lasted from the fall of 62 through the spring of 67. 4 1/2 wonderful years. Today, I remember Eddie fondly and miss him terribly. My condolences to his family and loved ones.

Anonymous said...

As I sit in the Hollywood slots Hotel I look out over the river at old Bangor and remember how I learned about Bangor in the early 1970' was Eddie!. Cable tv came to Halifax Nova Scotia Canada in 1974 and there he was telling us about"bean suppers" and how he would end his public service announcements with"we'll put it on for yaaaaaaa" He was a star back home and when I was old enough the drive we took a road trip to Bangor hoping we just might see him. I was sad when I heard of his passing as he was part of my youth. I still smile when I think back to his off beat charicter and funky shows...bring back"dialing for dollar!"

Halifax NS

Anonymous said...

I have to agree. I just found out that Eddie passed away. I have so many fond memories of his shows and stunts on cable. We had cable installed when I was 10. Living in Nova Scotia and having cable was every kid's dream and I only wish we could return to the Maine cables stns. I really don't like the stns we have now nor much of the tv for that matter. If only we could have someone like Eddie back on tv. Blessings to his family!!

Michelle Souliere said...

Guys! Any of you who remember watching host Eddie Driscoll in his character roles on Bangor's WLBZ TV2 network back in the day -- there is a new FB group which is dedicated to preserving Weird Show memories and memorabilia associated with it! Hooray!!!