MICHIGAN HORROR SHOW HOSTS #5: Morgus, 1964-1965
Back in the 1950’s, when movie studios like Universal, Paramount, Columbia, and MGM began selling their movie catalogs to television, the most popular package was Universal’s “Classic Horror” films. You know the ones; Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, and all the other spin-offs, sequels, and one-shots. TV audiences – especially the kids – couldn’t get enough of these classic old horror films, so the need for a wrap-around was inevitable.
Thus was born the “Horror Show Host”, a male or female, usually dressed in some kind of scary garb, hosting the evening’s fright flicks and doing shtick between film segments. Puns abounded, making the audience groan, but they loved every second of it.
I fondly remember Morgus, a creepy lab doctor who appeared on WJBK TV-2 in Detroit.
From 1964-1965, Morgus was hired to do TV weather reports (“Morgus and the Weather”) along with his own 11:30 Friday night horror movie show, “Morgus Presents.” He showed the great old classics from the 30's through the 50's, interspersed with his lab experiments that always went wrong. His assistants were a skull named Eric and a hooded robot/zombie type character named Armsby.
I remember watching one episode where the skit involved some thugs who broke into the studio and was holding Morgus prisoner. Before going back into the movie, Morgus would sneak up to the camera and say “kids, call the police and tell them to get over here and save me”! This happened for a few breaks until an announcer had to get on the air and tell the audience that it was just a skit, there was no real danger.....audience members had really called the cops.
Sid Noel (real name, Sidney Noel Rideau) played Morgus, the host of “House of Shock,” beginning in 1959 in New Orleans. After coming to Detroit in 1964, he left two years later, returning to New Orleans where he remained. He answered to “Morgus,” “Dr. Morgus,” “Professor Morgus,” and “Morgus the Magnificent.”
Sid Noel kept his real identity a secret, and it was rumored he didn't even tell his kids that he was Morgus. Noel continued as Morgus off-and-on for years and still makes occasional TV appearances.
He made one movie, “The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus” in 1962 and a few recordings.
I sure missed Morgus when he left Michigan. He was one of my all-time favorite TV hosts.