Dr. Paul Bearer
Dr. Paul Bearer actually came into being in early 1965 when Dick Bennick was working as Promotion Director/Talent for WGHP-TV Channel 8 in the Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point market in North Carolina. He designed his character, Dr. Paul Bearer, by looking through every issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine that he had at the time and making sort of a composite of what he liked about various characters.
For Dr. Paul’s personality, Bennick read a number of biographies of famous comedians and again formed a composite of Groucho Marx, Charlie Chaplin, Abbott & Costello, the Three Stooges and circus clown Emmett Kelly, Sr., along with some touches of Mad Magazine, National Lampoon, and Bennick’s own love for puns.
Since he had been the number one deejay in Winston-Salem for about eight years and had a very recognizable voice, he knew he would have to come up with a different one for his character, so he developed a guttural, reverse falsetto voice – and it worked like a charm. The show was a hit and grew into a staple on the North Carolina station for many years.
When he moved to Florida in the early 1970’s Bennick brought Dr. Paul with him; however it took some time to find a new home. But on September 15, 1973, Creature Feature debuted on WTOG-TV, Channel 44, in St. Petersburg, and the rest is history. For many years the program ran on Saturday afternoons and his other show, Fright Theater, ran on Saturday nights. The ratings showed that the shows reached all ages but the largest audience was adult women between the ages of 18 and 34.
Most of the time Bennick went into the studio, put on the makeup, and pre-recorded his portions of the show which would be inserted later at breaks in the movie when the show ran on Saturday. There were some live remote shows, though, like from the Florida State Fair in Tampa. Dr. Paul was also featured on Hee Haw, TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes, Entertainment Tonight and PM Magazine.
Dr. Paul was a favorite entry in area parades, too, making about 15 to 20 appearances a year, usually sitting on the hood of his hearse (a 1961 Cadillac), waving at the crowd. His busiest month for personal appearances should come as no surprise - October, the Halloween season.
Dick played Dr. Paul Bearer and hosted Creature Feature up until the time he passed away in 1995 following open heart surgery. For more on Dick Bennick, see his bio in Who’s Who).
1971 - 1973 WQPD-AM 1430 - Lakeland (On Air Personality)
1971 - 1973 WQPD-AM 1430 - Lakeland (Sales)