Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bob Wilkens is Dead

I just learned today that Bob Wilkens died on January 7. When I was a boy growing up in Palo Alto and Mountain View I used to beg my parents to let me stay up late and watch Creature Feature on KTVU (Ch. 2) hosted by Bob Wilkens. The show came on at 9 p.m. on Saturday nights and we had church the next morning. But once in a while if I begged hard enough and the movie was not particularly revolting they would relent and let me watch. So, at 6 I got to see Ray Harryhausen's 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts. I also saw Blackula, which was kind of a cross between Dracula and Shaft. And I saw Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Hardware Wars, and few others. But some of the movies, even though poorly made, gave me nightmares. So, with nightmares and church the next morning I rarely got to watch Creature Features. Oh, I remember one movie that was so scary I had nightmares about it for years.

(Creature Feature Intro)

One cute thing about Creature Feature was something my nephew Aaron, who was three at the time, asked my Dad. He said, "Papa, do you watch Peacher Peacher? Are you feared with it?" 30 years after those questions were asked, whenever my parents talked about their grandson Aaron to each other, Dad would say, "do you remember when he asked..."

When I was 9 he launched a new kids show that came on every weekday afternoon. He introduced Japanese kid culture to the Bay Area, by showing movies like Ultraman and Space Giants. I even had a Captain Cosmic decoder card.

He did a lot to really build the science-fiction and horror sub-culture. On his shows he would often mention book signings, or celebrity appearances at Sci-Fi oriented stores (You know them. They sell things like Battle Star Galactica trading cards and Imperial Storm Trooper helmets) such as The Federation Trading Post or Starbase Earth, both of which are now out of business. Bob Wilkins even helped organize and hosted the very first Star Trek Convention ever.


Matteo said...

KTVU was one of the last great "old-school" local TV stations with lots of good, corny homegrown programming. Do you remember Pat McCormack and his two shows "Dialing For Dollars" and the "Charlie and Humphrey" show (a bulldog puppet and a horse puppet introducing afternoon cartoons and yucking it up)?

Matt said...

Yes, I do remember Pat McCormack. Dialing for Dollars was the best part of being sick and staying home from school. KBHK used to be corny-local-cool in almost the same way.