Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cool Ghoul

When you mention the "Cool Ghoul" a lot of folks think of John Zacherly. Not me. I immediately think of Cincinnati's WXIX horror host, the Cool Ghoul, aka Dick VonHoene. Many's the Saturday night I would drag my parent's black and white television set from their bedroom into my bedroom to watch the Ghoul's program, Scream-In. It was a mix of song, comedy sketches, and of course, a horror film. Ever mindful that young children might be watching, if a particular film like Black Sunday was being shown, the Ghoul would show the scary opening at the end, so as not to frighten the kiddies.

The Ghoul to me was more than just another late night entertainer. His show was a clubhouse, where 'monster kids' could meet and watch Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, or Lon Chaney among others do their thing. It was local television at it's finest, who's time we will never see again, and the medium is much poorer for it.

In 2002, I attempted to track down Dick VonHoene, and using the internet discovered he was doing a cable television show in Kentucky. I wrote him a fan letter, expressing thanks for the hours of entertainment. He graciously sent me an signed photo, which I then used to paint the above portrait. I had every intention of sending him the portrait, but dragged my feet. Sadly he passed away in 2004 and never got to see it. Certainly one of my major "artistic regrets". I later donated it to a Cincinnati event who auctioned it off for charity in his name. It just seemed the right thing to do to honor his memory.

Funny thing about this painting, when I posted it on my web site, it began appearing all over the internet. Most times without my permission. It was also used in an issue of a Cincinnati magazine that did an article on the Ghoul. As long as it's used to keep his memory alive, it's okay with me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Phantom of the Opera

For some reason I have always been fascinated by this character, as portrayed by Lon Chaney. I recall as a young adult getting a super 8mm copy of this film from the library, and it had the hand tinted Masque of the Red Death scene!! I watched it over and over in my basement.

When my oldest daughter was 14 she and I attended an outdoor ampitheater which showed the film accompanied by a live orchestra! It was quite thrilling. She had never seen the movie before, and I really didn't know what she would think of it. When it ended and we were making our way back to the car, she looked at me and said "Dad, I feel kinda sorry for the Phantom." She got it!! Even though the man is a murderer, Chaney's portrayal elicited much sympathy for the character. You felt like he was driven by madness, and all he wanted was to be loved.

I wish I had a larger scan of this painting. It is one of my favorite shots of the Phantom, but the original photo is a bit blurry. I was pleased with how it turned out, and will probably take another shot at it in the future. This was one of six monster paintings in a series where I painted one a week for six weeks.