This Gunsmoke extra was Cleveland's beloved horror host Ghoulardi
Drew Carey wore his shirts… and his son became a major player in Hollywood.
On Gunsmoke, he was known only as "Man." In Cleveland, he was the man when it came to classic horror. Much like our very own Svengoolie, Ghoulardi presented those timeless Universal horror movies with a healthy dose of punchlines and slapstick. Svengoolie lovingly pokes fun at the Chicago 'burb Berwyn; Ghoulardi similarly jabbed at Parma, Ohio. His Shock Theater series ran on the local CBS affiliate in Cleveland in the 1960s.
The man behind Ghoulardi was Ernie Anderson, who also hosted a regional morning show titled Ernie's Place. That just so happened to feature another rising talent, Northern Ohio's own Tim Conway. That's right — before he partnered with Carol Burnett and Don Knotts, Conway honed his comedic chops with Anderson, as sketch actor on both on Ernie's Place and Shock Theater.
Ghoulardi would have a major influence on Boomers growing up on the southern shores of Lake Eerie. Drew Carey, who was a kid growing up in Cleveland in the 1960s, was clearly a big fan. His character wore a Ghoulardi T-shirt on The Drew Carey Show, as seen above. The cult punk band The Cramps also borrowed a lot of their look and vibe from Ghoulardi. Oh, and his son, Paul Thomas Anderson became a critically adored Hollywood director thanks to his films Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, Phantom Thread, etc.
Yet, despite his local celebrity and sway, Anderson hung up his Ghoulardi persona in 1966 and moved to Los Angeles to give his acting career a bigger go.
He was no stranger to national television. In 1964, he briefly popped up in an episode of Gunsmoke, "Blue Heaven." Pay close attention to when Kurt Russell and Tim O'Connor give a coin to a lazing "Man". Yep, that's Ernie Anderson leaning against the post. And speaking of Svengoolie, we should note that his Gunsmoke tale features both Kurt Russell, star of The Thing (1982), and James Arness, star of The Thing (1951)!
But the former horror host found more work as a voice artist. Anderson reteamed with his old pal as the announcer for The Tim Conway Comedy Hour. In the 1970s, he became "The Voice of ABC," voicing on-air promos for the network into the 1980s. He even voiced the previews for upcoming episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation in its earliest seasons.
Yep, all that career hiding behind a couple of small lines in "Blue Heaven." Even the extras on Gunsmoke were packing a lot of history!