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09.19.07

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Book

I Was a TV Horror Host
Bay Area writer and TV personality John Stanley represents a happier era of local TV. The long-memoried will cherish Stanley as part of a time that included pet-dog cameos on TV 20 and Ga3ry of Triple M Carpet dazzling the sleepless with The Beast of Yucca Flats. It turns out that Stanley, host of KTVU's Creature Features, kept notes when interviewing the only movie stars who really matter: Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Anthony Perkins among them. While noting their distaste at being stereotyped as horror-movie actors, Stanley did his best to keep them talking about the work that the fans loved best. Stanley traces the art of horror-movie raconteuring back to radio days. Then, hosts like The Whistler, The Hermit and The Witch of Salem and her cat Satan set the mood for horror programs. But it's the more personal histories that make this book: the account of a cocktail party with Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason and a morose Art Carney is evocative of Hollywood's dwindling days in the mid-1970s. And interviews with Ray Bradbury and William Castle reflect the permanent influence upon horror and fantasy film of these two radically different personalities: one, a childlike, sensitive observer, the other, an indefatigable showman. Come to think of it, this is a division one reads in Stanley as well. (By John Stanley (Creatures at Large Press; 204 paper; $19.99 paper)
—By Richard von Busack



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