I know Bob Burns from the “It Came from Bob’s Basement” segment that used to air on the show “Sci-Fi Buzz” on the Sci-Fi Network. The segment featured a very congenial guy named Bob showing another guy around his gigantic basement packed floor to ceiling full of costumes, props and movie memorabilia.
The New York Times stated that it could be the “premier film museum in the Los Angeles area, though it is not open to the public and has no regular hours.” Notable contents include the last surviving 18 inch armature model used to animate the original 1933 King Kong movie, costumes of several of the Republic serials of the ‘40s, masks from several Rick Baker movies, and the original Time Machine from the George Pal film.
Bob Burns is listed as an actor, producer, consultant, interviewee, writer, archivist and historian of props. It’s easy to say he’s an expert when it comes to films of the fantastic.
Now about Horror Hosting… Bob wasn’t necessarily a host, more a co-conspirator on two separate hosted horror shows (Shock Theater and Theatre 13).
He and his wife, Kathy, made appearances as many different monsters on “Shock Theater” hosted by “The Host” AKA Joe Alston from 1959-60.
Upon discovering it during Bob’s stint in the Army in San Antonio, they offered to assist KENS-TV’s Shock Theater with a different monster every week, which would tie into the movie being shown, if the station would pay for supplies. KENS agreed, ratings soared, and Bob and Kathy invented spooky skits and assorted monsters as needed.
Bob’s characters included mad doctors, lab assistants and the victims of their experiments, a village idiot, the Frankenstein monster, a wolf man, and one of his best known characters, the Mad Mummy. Kathy played the Bride of Frankenstein, the Weird Woman, hideous hags, witches and her infamous “Miss Shock” character.
When William Castle came to San Antonio in 1959 to promote THE TINGLER, Joe Alston, Bob and Kathy Burns added to Castle’s usual antics. They met him at the airport dressed in full werewolf and Miss Shock dress and presented him with a Skeleton Key to the City made out of actual human bones!
“Theater 13” was originally called “Jeepers Creepers Theatre” and this incarnation lasted from ’62-63. It was hosted by Bob Guy as the character “Jeepers”. Bob appeared on the show as “The Mad Mummy”, but mostly worked on the show as makeup and SFX artist and continued on the show after another host (Ghoulita) took over for Jeepers.
Bob Burns appeared in “The Lucy Show” as a werewolf, “My Three Sons” as a gorilla, “Rat Pfink a Boo Boo” as Kogar the Gorilla and even in “The Ghost Busters” as Tracy the Gorilla. He’s also appeared in many shorts and tv spots as the great ape.
Finally, here’s a neat 15 minute interview and tour of some of Bob’s collection…