The Scary Tale of Shock Theatre continues....
In March, 1955, Reynolds got the call from WTVT just days before their April 1st premiere. "He was ambitious when it came to going from radio to TV" explains Paul's daughter Carol. "Someone told my Dad that he was too ugly for TV. He had his teeth fixed and bought some of the earliest contact lenses that covered the whole eyeball. He worked very hard to get into television."
Reynold's 'after' shot
Connie Reynolds remembers that Paul's voice signed WTVT on the air April 1, 1955. "He went in initially as a booth announcer," she recalls."Only a few days later, they wanted him to do on-the-air commercials, and his first commercial account was for Maas Brothers. He would get paid extra for appearing on camera or making a personal appearance." Reynolds spent part of his time as a sports reporter, and eventually became one of the west coasts best known television personalities.
Rock and Roll music was going mainstream when Reynolds hosted "RECORD ROOM" Monday thru Friday 5-6pm (5:15-6pm on Friday) beginning October 31, 1955. Yes, this was over a year before Dick Clark hosted "American Bandstand." Reynolds would interview teens, take song requests, and let them admire "Kitty 13," the show's feline mascot. "Paul got in trouble with Kitty 13," recalls Connie Reynolds. "The cat got in some of the equipment racks and did something. Paul had to keep a closer eye on 'Kitty 13' after that." The show was re-named "OPEN HOUSE" In November, 1955, and continued until October 10, 1956. This show was designed for teens and housewives, featured beauty tips by Del Russo, cartooning by Bill Stokes, and a weekly dance clinic. Paul and "Open House" returned for a Saturday afternoon slot from April 19, 1958 to June 18, 1960. Seen from 4:30 to 5:30 pm, the show was renamed "TEEN PARTY" and sponsored by RC Cola.
Hosting teen music programs must have been a odd fit for Reynolds, who preferred the classics and was no fan of rock and roll. He even ranted against some new kid who sang while shaking his hips...Elvis Presley! When it came time to interview a famous folk group, Reynolds turned to his daughter Carol for help. "Dad had to interview Peter, Paul, and Mary" explains younger daughter A.J. "He wasn't into folk music, so he had Carol write down questions for him to ask them."
The hard-working Reynolds continued his night owl ways at WTVT, hosting "Two On The Aisle," a late-night feature starting at 11:30 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Reynolds and TV clicked and he settled in for a long run. "TV is great...radio is great. But they have their differences," he explained. "With radio, you're behind a mike, unseen by your listeners. No camera antics are necessary. Radio is still the best medium for news and music. On TV, now you're in the big leagues. You're competing with big names like Berle or Gobel. You've got to make people like you. On a disk show like mine, you have to figure out what to show the viewers while a records spinning...that's a problem."
The versatile Reynolds was also a fill-in host for vacationing Mary Ellen. Only then, he was usually under makeup as "Bozo The Clown." This might be the reason that Olson thought of putting Reynolds into costume for Shock Theatre.
"Always keep laughing!" says Paul Reynolds as Bozo The Clown