Monday, August 18, 2014

Monster Monday: Chiller Theater

I first discovered Chiller Theater, thanks to my Mom,
during the show's second week on the air in September 1963
via WIIC (now WPXI) channel 11 in Pittsburgh.
It was a single feature then at 3pm Saturday afternoon.
Bill Cardille was just heard not seen in that first year. 
The show and Mr. Cardille proved to be so popular that it was moved to a double feature,
at 11:15 Saturday night in September 1964, and Bill Cardille became the onscreen host.
I was there every week for Chiller Theater's 20 year run. 
Dubbed "Chilly Billy" early on by the son of channel 11 sportscaster Red Donley,
Bill "Chilly Billy" Cardille became a legend in Pittsburgh TV, 
and would go on to appear in the original Night of The Living Dead (1968).

"Are they slow moving, chief?"

Bill Cardille quickly became my idol, and thanks to Chiller Theater,
I saw over 1,000 first run monster movies.
Chiller was a major part of my horror film education.
Rather than play a character,
Chilly appeared as himself at the beginning and end of the show,
and between the movies, there would be a number of skits
such as Captain Bad and The Pittsburgh Subway Report.

Captain Bad!

Chiller Theater was a party every Saturday night,and the show and the man, Chilly Billy,
are fondly remembered by all of us who tuned in each week.
Bill Cardille, a true class act, now 85, still lives in Pittsburgh.

Bill and daughter Lori Cardille (Sarah in Day of the Dead) in 2007

In October 1976, Chiller moved from the Lab set, 
which had been there since 1965, to the Castle set, 
and a Chiller Family was introduced.

Halloween 1977

Norman the Castle Keeper (Norman Elder) joined the show first,
followed by Terminal Stare (Donna Rae), Stefan the Castle Prankster (Steven Luncinski) 
and Sister Susie (Joyce Sterling). She left the show in early 1978 though,
and was replaced by Georgette the Fudgemaker (Bonnie Barney).
The Chiller Family was dropped in February 1982,
thanks to the poopy headed management at channel 11!

Terminal Stare (Donna Rae) and Joyce Sterling (Sister Susie)

Terminal Stare ( Donna Rae), Stefan (Steve Luncinski), Bill Cardille (Chilly Billy),
Georgette (Bonnie Barney) and Norman (Norman Elder)

Sadly, Norman Elder and Steve Luncinski passed away.
Donna Rae and Joyce Sterling both still live in Pittsburgh.
Bonnie Barney lives in Florida, hopefully still making Fudge!

There was a Sunday night show, too, called Son of Chiller,
which was hosted by Bill Cardille from January to June 1966.

For more on Chiller, visit the official site here.

This post was written by my fangtasic friend Conrad Widener,
who will be sharing his monster memories here every Monday!
So please give him a warm welcome!


  1. Great post Conrad. We don't have anything like Chilly Billy here in the uk. I grew up with "Friday Night's appointment with FEAR"...mum would let us stay up to watch such classics as "Frankenstein" and "Dracula", but my fav was always Oliver Reed as the werewolf :D XXX

    1. Hi Gina,and thanks for the kind words! Appointment With Fear sounds awesome! My Mom would let me stay up late,too! Oliver Reed is great in Curse of the Werewolf! Hammer horror forever! :) I really can't thank my lovely and ultra cool friend Holly enough for allowing me to be a part of her blog,where I can chat/meet equally cool folks like you Gina! :)