ANDERSON, ERNIE (12 Nov. 1923 - 6 Feb. 1997) was a nationally known television announcer, most familiar to network audiences as the voice of ABC-TV, and to Cleveland audiences as the late night horror-movie host, Ghoulardi, on WJW-TV from 1963 to 1966.
Ernest Earle Anderson was born in the Boston suburb of Lynn, MA, to Emily (Malenson) and Ernest C. Anderson, a telephone system installer. He joined the Navy during WORLD WAR II, serving as an aircraft mechanic and leading a military dance band while stationed in Hawaii and Guam. He later attended Suffolk University in Boston for two years, intending to study law, but a summer job as disc jockey at WSKI in Burlington, VT, in 1946 led him to change careers.
Anderson spent six years as a disc jockey in Providence, RI, then moved to Albany, NY, for two years before coming to Cleveland in 1958 to work for WHK. After WHK bought out his contract in spring of 1959, he held a succession of temporary radio jobs before becoming booth announcer for WESTINGHOUSE-owned KYW-TV. He was hired by WJW-TV in 1961, collaborating with writer and comedian Tim Conway on "Ernie's Place," a daytime movie and comedy show that ran through Jan. 1962. When Conway left for Hollywood to join the cast of a new situation comedy called "McHale's Navy," Anderson acquired more voiceover and on-camera commercial work for companies like OHIO BELL TELEPHONE and Millbrook Bread, and for six months appeared on another daytime show on Channel 8.
From Jan. 1963 to late 1966, Anderson hosted WJW's Friday night horror movie show, "Shock Theater," as the irreverent, mocking Ghoulardi. He spoke like a beatnik version of Bela Lugosi, wearing a lab coat, fright wig, fake goatee and mustache, and sunglasses with one missing lens. He became an instant, albeit controversial sensation, introducing each movie as the worst he'd ever seen, superimposing his image during various points of the film, and poking fun at local television personalities and ethnic neighborhoods. Despite a cantankerous image, he used his popularity philanthropically, raising funds for charity through his amateur sports team, the Ghoulardi All-Stars.
In Oct. 1966, Anderson joined Tim Conway in Hollywood. He made two appearances on Conway's series, "Rango," in 1967, and the pair revived their comedy act, appearing on television and recording two comedy albums. But Anderson found more success doing voiceovers; throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he was principal announcer on ABC television, and in 1976 his voice was heard every night introducing CBS-TV's "Bicentennial Minutes." He was also commercial spokesman for Ford, RCA, and other companies. Although he made only one reprise of the Ghoulardi character in 1991, his impact was profound and lasting. In 1996 he received an award from the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters for contributions to Cleveland broadcasting.
Anderson married Marguerite Hemmer in 1947. They had five children: Michael, Victoria, Stephen, Ernest, and Richard. They divorced in 1966. He married Edwina Gough in 1968, and had four children: Kathryn, Paul, Amanda, and Elizabeth. They were divorced in 1995. In 1996 he married Bonnie Skolnick. Anderson died of cancer at his home in Studio City, California, and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills. His wife Bonnie passed away very shortly after.
Updated by Christopher Roy
Last updated: 10/6/2023