I first heard the name Tarantula Ghoul on my search of Horror Hosts for this year’s Countdown to Halloween. Being that she was a Portland-based host (on KPTV’s House of Horror) who only had a show for two years in the late 1950s, I didn’t think too much of it. Add to this the fact that there are no known video recordings of her show and its hard to believe many people do know about her.
The fact that she was a female host in the ‘50s made her exceptional, of course. Other than Vampira who was a pioneer to both men and women in the art of hosting, there were no other women doing it until Moona Lisa in 1963. Why not cover Vampira, you ask? No worries, dear reader, it’s a lenghty month and we’ll have time for her later.
Suzanne Waldron was Tarantula Ghoul a vampy monster of ceremonies, referred to affectionately by her fans as “Taranch”. Those fans wondered whatever became of her for years as her show seemed to end suddenly. All they had to prove her existence was a few articles, photos and ads for her show.
|CLICK THE PICTURES TO READ THE ARTICLES|
It’s a real shame, because the antics and bits her show produced seem really innovative and quite witty. Very Morticia Addams, actually. She attacks the Highway Commission for removing the few decent death traps left, kids the D.A.R. with her own organization, the D.S.W.T. (Daughters of the Salem Witch Trials). Active in the Black Cross instead of Red and lectures on Second Aid as opposed to First. She advises audiences to “Smoke the Big-O”, in tones of evil, “—OPM Cigarettes!”
Her sense of pageantry was bold as she would have a different set piece with each feature… for Frankenstein the lab was recreated for her operating table entrance. For Mummy films she made an entrance from a sarcophagus. For Murders in the Rue Morgue she did the show in French with English subtitles. King Kong was presented as a This is Your Life satire with a large audience of costumed monsters paying tribute to a live chimp named Kenya, an alleged great, great grandson of Kong.
Characters and creatures on her show are Milton, a retired grave-robber turned gardener; a boa constrictor named “Baby”; a rattlesnake and "Sir Galahad", a tarantula. At home, Suzanne had a Great Dane named “Frankenstein”.
Well, one blogger eventually did discover what happened to Tarantula Ghoul after contacting one of her sons for information about the host. Suzanne got pregnant and wasn’t married at the time and so she was quickly off the air. She did go on to act in theater and commercials in Portland in the decades since, until the family moved to Omaha, where the former Tarantula Ghoul died of cancer, just shy of the age of 50 in 1982.
Little did I know that I own a few pieces of Tarantula Ghoul’s work. In fact, her voice-work is a fairly popular thing come this time of year. Her song “Graveyard Rock” is a popular tune for Halloween parties and events. "King Kong" is the other tune and it features more of her singing and is more a throwback to the swing period with jazzy elements. I’ve had it on my digital devices and my Halloween mixes for years. It is her voice that takes the songs beyond mere novelty and makes it work on another level. And I suppose that song and the other that she did with “The Gravediggers” are the only recordings of her voice out there.
Enjoy both of her songs here…
And here are most of the sources for tonight's blog...
if I've left you off of the list, my bad...