Remember watching those old horror movies at home on Saturday nite when you were a kid? Who doesn't love watching the old classics like "The Thing From Another World", "The Mummy". "The Curse of Frankenstein", and "The House of Wax"?
It was 1969 and Channel 17 had just picked up a package of horror films cheap. Doctor Shock was the television horror host for Philadelphia from 1970 until 1979.
He appeared on several shows over the years: Scream In, Horror Theater, and Mad Theater. All of these shows aired on WPHL-TV, Channel 17. He was known as the mad magician of fright, and would frequently perform magic tricks during his show. His favorite trick was fire eating. Doctor Shock was played by Joe Zawislak, a magician from the Manyunk region of Philadelphia.
By the mid-1970s Channel 17 had been sold several times and new blood was looking for ways to generate more revenue. They started with Doctor Shock. Channel 17 ended Scream In and broke Doctor Shock’s normal double feature into two separate programs: Horror Theater and Mad Theater.
Doctor Shock was also taken out of the Saturday night time slot and moved to Saturday afternoons where one or both of his programs regularly got pre-empted for sporting events much to the dismay of his many fans.
In the meantime Doctor Shock was very busy. He produced a music single. It sold out. The next logical step was a full length music album. It was a smash in a tri-state area. Joe Zawislak had been elected president of the local magician’s union. He was involved in charity events and got to perform with Jerry Lewis on one of his muscular dystrophy telethons. He golfed with Bob Hope. He visited the Playboy mansion.
Just when Doctor Shock was at his peak, tragedy struck when he passed away in 1979. His legacy, however, lives on with his children and the memories of the millions of fans who watched and loved him.
Click here to watch some classic clips of Doctor Shock!