Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, Ernie wanted to go to law school, but World War II ended that dream when drafted into the Army. After the war, and several small market radio gigs in Vermont, New York and Rhode Island, Ernie landed at WHK. In 1958, he went to KYW-TV where he hosted the show ‘Ernie’s Place’ and formed a life-long friendship with Tim Conway. Both moved to CBS-WJW, but shortly after ‘Ernie’s Place’ was cancelled. The station offered Ernie a job as a horror show host—and the rest is Cleveland broadcast history. From 1963-1966, he hosted “Shock Theater’ in a Friday late night time slot. The show featured grade ‘B’ science fiction and horror films and Ghoulardi was born. Unlike other late night TV hosts, Anderson’s irreverent and influential ‘Ghoulardi’, was a hipster. His costume was a long lab coat covered with ‘slogan’ buttons, horn rimmed-glasses with a missing lens, a fake Van Dyke beard and moustache and various messy, awkwardly placed wigs.
Ghoulardi spared no unhip targets: from Parma (“Par-ma?!”) which he often called “Amrap” and Oxnard, Cali, to ultraconservative band leader Lawrence Welk and polka music and local TV personalities Mike Douglas, Barnaby and Captain Penny, Dorothy Fuldheim (“Dorothy Baby”) and Mayor Mike Perk. He mocked the films and spoke an accent laden beatnik slang. He used comedic sound effects or music over the movie audio track and would insert himself into the film and appear to run from the monsters. He loved firecrackers and started blowing up apples and leftovers and graduated to model cars and other items sent in by viewers. His parody of Peyton Place, “Parma Place” was an instant hit, but was pulled after city officials complained. Ghoulardi also often played the ‘Rivermans’ “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” over a clip of a toothless old man gurning.
Anderson left Cleveland for LA and went on to be the ‘Voice’ of ABC bumpers, The Love Boat and America’s Funniest Videos. Anderson, and Ghoulardi, received the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters Award for Excellence in Broadcasting in 1996.
“stay sick you purple knif” and “cool it with the boom-booms, ova-dey!”