Classic Horror Hosts - BOB WILKINS!
Bob Wilkins didn’t seem the sort to become a horror host. He wasn’t dressed like an undertaker or mad scientist. He didn’t wear a fright wig. He didn’t even have an alter-ego! He was just Bob Wilkins, mild-mannered host of Creature Features, reclining in his trademark yellow rocking chair and smoking a huge cigar and delivering the show’s slogan: “Watch Horror Films - Keep America Strong!” Despite that, or perhaps because of it, he was insanely popular in his home base of the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento.
Creature Features was unlike most other hosts’ programs. Instead of ghoulish skits, Wilkins would provide informative commentary on the movies, and bring on a plethora of guests including Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, John Belushi, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ray Harryhausen, John Landis, locals claiming to be witches and vampires, local filmmakers, and more.
His dry, deadpan humor and quick, informed wit appealed to not only the traditional “horror host” fan base of monster kids, but a wide audience of viewers. As a result, he would regularly beat big shows like Saturday Night Live in the local Nielsen ratings. Throughout most of his career, he hosted three shows every week — two of them double features. He’d do two shows for KTVU-2 in Oakland, and one for KTXL-40 in Sacramento. And for two years there at the peak of his popularity, he hosted a fourth show for KTVU as “Captain Cosmic” where he would show classic sci-fi films (while incognito in a space helmet, and uncredited). All this, plus he produced a number of specials, answered all of his own fan mail, and was a devoted husband and father. He even coached his kids’ baseball teams!
He turned over the reins of his two KTVU programs to John Stanley, who continued in much the same vein, in 1979 and returned to his original field of advertising. However, he continued to host his Sacramento show until his retirement in 1981. In 2007, John Stanley reported that Wilkins was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He passed away less than two years later. But his legacy continues to loom large in the Horror Hosts Hall of Fame.
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