Fifteen years ago, February 18, 1995, a Tampa icon passed away. Dick Bennick's Saturday horror host persona, Dr. Paul Bearer, transcended local pop culture making him one of the iconic figures in the bay area.
Creature Feature, on Channel 44 WTOG, was a requirement every Saturday. As I read Famous Monsters magazines, I was a huge fan of science fiction and horrors films. The great Doctor always a guilty pleasure.
I remember watching "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" and my grandmother came into the room and made me turn it off. I raced outside and begged my grandfather to watch it outside with him on his small black and white.
The close to my sale pitch: "You love Dr. Paul Bearer" and he did...and I watched the rest of "Children."
"Plan 9 from Outer Space" was another Creature Feature treat and I remember emulating the film with my brother using a couple of my Mother's "good" plates. Needless to say, it was years later I joked with my Mom about the incident since the film used paper plates - she's still not amused.
All in all, Dr. Paul Bearer was the star. Every episode included a couple of skits full of silly puns, "guests" like Irma Broombeck and Witch Hazel, but it was all Bennick.
The pinnacle of my fandom was meeting the Horror Host on location with his hearse. I can't find a picture that I still swear we had taken but I'll cherish the memory either way.
Fifteen years later I felt the need to pause and remember a local icon - RIP Doctor Paul Bearer.
We're all still lurking for you.
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