MICHIGAN HORROR SHOW HOSTS #7: Count Zappula, 1970’s – 1990’s
“Count Zappula’s Horror House” was on at 11:30 on Saturday nights during the 70’s & 80’s, along with his companion Igor, played by his dog, a terrier named Lover.
Count Zappula made his debut in Traverse City on WGTU/WGTQ in 1976, lasting ‘til 1980. From there he went to another Traverse City station, WPBN/WTOM, where he stayed until the 1990's.
Don Melvoin was Count Zappula, who began in a kiddie show as ‘Deputy Don’ in Traverse City. He also was host of Grand Rapids’ “Fireman Freddy Show” and appeared in popular TV shows like “Bonanza,” “Marcus Welby, MD,” “Mayberry RFD,” “Night Gallery,” and “The Twilight Zone.” If you look closely, you can also spot him in the Christopher Reeve / Mackinac Island film, “Somewhere In Time.”
After retiring his ‘Count Zappula’ character, Don Melvoin spent his last years in Traverse City with his dog and passed away in 2002.
One of Count Zappula's directors, Eric Pearson, had this anecdote about the Count, as found on the Clea’s Cave website: “When we finished the show at one in the morning or so, the Count was usually pretty tired and would drive home before changing out of his costume and makeup. Don drove a large Jeep Cherokee-type vehicle with dark, tinted windows, and one night he was pulled over by a police officer. He waited until the officer was next to the driver's window before he hit the button to roll the window down. When he became visible he flicked his tongue like a cobra and said ‘Good Evening’ in his best vampire voice, and the officer nearly crapped his pants."
Now THAT’S keeping the spirit alive.