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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Wilkins

 

I was disappointed when it was announced that Bob Wilkins was leaving Oakland’s KTVU after having been Channel 2’s host of “Creature Features” from 1971 – 1978.

John Stanley was to be Bob’s replacement, and the only “John Stanley” I knew was an entertainment writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.  It turned out he was one and the same, and I was pleasantly surprised that he was a worthy successor to Bob.

John knew how to conduct an interview, and I always looked forward to reading them in the Chronicle.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one; John’s tenure at the Chronicle lasted 33 years!

He interviewed Clint Eastwood on the set of “Rawhide,” James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Ida Lupino, Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Russell, even Arnold Schwarzenegger, and …I couldn’t begin to remember them all.

“Creature Features” gave John an opportunity once again to interview science-fiction and horror stalwarts; this time on camera: Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Ray Harryhausen, Roger Corman…again, too many to recall.

John Stanley’s latest book, “The Gang That Shot Up Hollywood” is loaded with re-worked interviews/observations/reflections (and over 750 photographs) of many of the famous entertainers he’s interviewed through the years at the Chronicle.  My favorite is the section on Samuel Fuller. John knew Joe Rosenthal, photographer of the famed Iwo Jima flag-raising, and there is a very interesting piece on him, too.

You can buy the book from Amazon, but if you get it through John’s site, www.stanleybooks.net, he’ll autograph a copy for you.   Even if you don’t buy the book, be sure to check out his site and “click” every option as there are more cool books including, “The Creature Features Movie Guide” and his autobiographical, “I Was a TV Horror Host,” and various “Creature Feature” DVDs as well.

John Stanley’s efforts too often fall under the radar…don’t let him fall under yours.

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 “Watch Horror Films – Keep America Strong” – Bob Wilkins

 

KTVU, Channel 2 in Oakland, California, was one of the nation’s powerhouse independent television stations.   I started watching in the late 1950s/early 1960s when they aired cool (to a kid) live shows such as Captain Satellite, Roller Derby, and National All-Star Wrestling.  But movies were consistently their ratings grabbers.  In 1986 KTVU became part of the Fox Network and, of course, its programming forever changed. 

 

KTVU fixtures I was happy to have met…

 

BOB WILKINS

 

 

“Don’t stay up late, it’s not worth it”

 

From 1971 to 1979, Bob Wilkins, the cigar-chomping, dead-pan humored, host of Channel 2’s “Creature Features,” whose deprecating comments about his program’s library of grade B and Z horror and science fiction films were irresistible. (He did show some good movies, too).  One of his hallmarks was to recommend that his viewers not watch his movie, but change to another channel.  He even read the TV Guide listings of opposing programs!  Sponsors were ticked off until they found out that his gimmick jacked up ratings.  I, for one, found his approach irresistible, although one viewing of “Creature from the Haunted Sea” was enough.

 

“This movie has two things going for it…it’s in color and they speak the English language.”

 

Bob interviewed big-time horror and sci-fi icons like William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ray Harryhausen and Christopher Lee.   I first time I met Bob in 1972 when he invited me to be a guest on his show.   Thank god he put me at ease with his low-key bedside manner as I’d never been on television before, much less a show with so many viewers.   He must have liked me because he had me as a guest several times, and I was always grateful for the plugs. 1979 Bob called it quits at KTVU, although he continued with his Sacramento “Creature Features” show on KCRA a few more years.  Bob was a very funny guy, with a wonderful, wry sense of humor, and that voice…I can still hear him say…

 

“Well, that’s it. I told you it’s bad!”

 

BOB SHAW

 

Bob Shaw was one of the nicest, most knowledgeable, and unpretentious film critics I’ve ever met.  Before he was hired by KTVU, he was already working gratis behind the scenes at “Creature Features,” providing Bob Wilkins with trivia for the show.  In 1977 Bob W. talked Channel 2’s film director, Jim Skinner, into hiring Bob Shaw as a film editor.  Later Bob Shaw became the station’s film critic, and he was one of the best.  The stars he interviewed invariably liked (some adored) him, and that interviewer-interviewee connection made his movie critiques that much better.   

 

Bob and I met in the early 1970s while I was a guest on “Creature Features.”  We both were 16mm film buffs, so spoke the same language, but we didn’t have much time to talk because he was nervously running around the set making sure props were in order.  We spoke on the phone a few times through the later 1970s, but I didn’t see him again until the early 1980s when he had been working as a film editor.   KTVU ran lots of movies, so he was in movie buff heaven.   When the station first let him review a new movie on-camera, he was not too sure of himself, as anyone in the same situation would be, but it was clear from the very beginning he was going to be one of the best.  And he was.

 

We lost both Bob Wilkins and Bob Shaw in 2009.

www.bobwilkins.net

Visit our website to order DVDs from the Kit Parker Films Collection –

www.sprocketvault.com

Keep up to date with our new Sprocket Vault releases by liking us on Facebook www.facebook.com/sprocketvault/

Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLHjjG-o5Ny5BDykgVBzdrQ .

 


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