Dick Von Hoene was The Cool Ghoul, a character he originated in the early ‘60s on the radio in Cincinnati with WCPO (now WDBZ) on a show called “Bob Smith’s Monster Mash”. At the same time, he was working with puppeteer Larry Smith on the character in comedy routines.
In 1969, Von Hoene was on television working in Cincinnati at WXIX. This is when he created the Ghoul’s look. At first, the character was a little too scary for the young ones, so an effort was made to go lighter. His wig, a bright orange-red dutch boy cut, blacked out eyes and powder white face under a beat up pork-pie hat—at least it started out as one.
Von Hoene’s Ghoul was just plain zany—his tall, lanky body he used well to play into the goofiness to be found in his trademark exclaimation “Bleah, bleah, BLEAAAHH!” And most original, his tongue-fluttering “Bl-bl-bl-bl-bl-bl-bl…”. The Ghoul was a monster “who’s been kicked out of Transylvania because hea has dull fangs.”
His show was “Scream-In”, based on the popular “Laugh-In” and instead of catchphrases like “Sock it to me” he used “Shock it to me”. And the show was a big hit. For three years his Ghoul enthralled audiences. And, like most local talent, he made many appearances and events.
Here’s a remix of the theme song from his show and a very extensive set of photos via the great and powerful YouTube:
Dick was also a great voice actor and could do an impersonation of Boris Karloff that even fooled the horror icon’s personal secretary of 30 years. That voice was the one he used to do the announcer work for his own show.
Like a few other Horror Hosts, The Cool Ghoul made a novelty record… “The Cool Ghoul’s Phantasmagorical Funky Fonograf Record” and here, for your edification and enjoyment is that entire album (praise be to YouTube):
After a successful, but short three and a half years, the show was over. However, the Cool Ghoul remained popular making public appearances, doing fundraisers, putting on annual Halloween TV specials.
Ink the early 1980s, Von Hoene brought the Ghoul South to WCTI-TV 12 in New Bern, North Carolina and gained a solid fanbase for a short period.
Von Hoene died of a heart attack at age 63 in 2004 while shopping with his younger brother. At the time, he had been hosting a show called “Northern Kentucky Magazine” for about a decade, which was a regional personality and places show. Always a versatile broadcaster, Dick did news, DJ, and even hosting a talk-show. By the time of his passing, he’d done it all when it came to local broadcasting, but what he will be forever remembered for is his stint as The Cool Ghoul.
But feel free to skip all of that reading and simply watch the documentary retrospective of his life and career via the YouTubes:
And since I love this tale of The Cool Ghoul’s wig…
"Did you ever hear the story about why Dick's (Von Hoene) fright wig was only the back half of a wig?” artist and friend Judy Harrell asks.
"He went up to Dana Bruce, a costumer around town, and told him he wanted a wig in this sort of odd color that he could make kind of stringy and scraggly. Dana had just the thing. A woman had died in a car crash awhile before and needed a wig in that color. Dana made it for her, but also realized that only the front half would show, what with her head on one of those big fluffy satin pillows and all.
"Not being one to waste, he cut the wig in half. Dick took the back half and wore it his entire career."
And now the sites from which we here at The Goods borrowed the facts: