The Scary Tale of Shock Theatre continues....

Reynold's efforts and the classic movie package soon worked ratings magic. "I've never been on a show that's caught on quicker," said Reynolds, whose nine year old daughter A.J. became known around school as 'The Daughter of Shock.' "Dad was going to visit my elementary class in his 'Shock' costume, recalls A.J." He got a little lost and peaked through the window of my classroom. One of the kids became hysterical and ran to the back of the room. I ran after her and said 'That's my Dad! He's just a man!" The other kids thought it was great."

Larry Wiezycki recalls helping his father Joe produce some special 'Shock' effects on several occasions. "My Dad had an idea that 'Shock' is going to save all the used Christmas trees that people throw out. Me and my buddies went around after Christmas collecting trees. The limbs and needles were all brown and dried out. It was a big mess and 'Shock' moved the trees into his attic, and somehow sets them all on fire."

"I remember that they made a fire between the camera and the trees so it looked like the place was an inferno." Larry revealed to BIG 13 that Joe played a recurring part on 'Shock Theatre'. "My Dad was 'Mr. Wilson' next door. You never saw himyou only heard him yelling at 'Shock' for playing his records too loud or whatever."

"We want our Shock!"
Protestors picketed to bring back Shock

Reynolds happily hosted Shock Theatre for three years, until management decided to replace it with the new Joey Bishop talk show in April, 1967. Bob Olson wasn't ready for the fan reaction to the news of Shock's cancellation. Protestors appeared at Channel 13's doorstep with placards demanding the return of Shock Armstrong. Noting the crowd's feelings, and having nothing better to program at 11:30, Reynold's was back in costume and 'Shock' was back on the air until 1968. After 13 years at BIG 13, Reynolds left the station and moved to Atlanta to work as an early consumer ombudsman for WXII-TV, and later WAGA-TV. Unfortunately, Reynold's 'Shock' costume and 'Bozo' outfit were stolen from the Reynold's near-vacant Florida house while they were apartment hunting in Atlanta.

Reynold's career flourished in Atlanta, and viewers back in Tampa Bay consoled themselves with memories of his zany antics on 'Shock Theatre.' Reynolds, who delighted audiences in Florida and Georgia for 40 years, died in 1996.

'Shock Theatre' continued but without a live host. A plastic Frankenstein head (originally a Halloween candy receptacle), was ghoulishly painted a sickening yellow-green by the station's art director. The Friday evening studio crew would put the Shock head in place of the PULSE News rotating miniature globe, and apply the SHOCK THEATRE logo over the PULSE logo. It was a deft satire of the PULSE logo that somehow didn't ruffle the feathers of the news department. But 'Shock' somehow had that effect on had to love him.

Shock Theatre finally ended in 1974, to be replaced by CBS's many futile attempts at late night programming.

Paul Reynolds posing in his Channel 13 blazer, circa 1963.

They don't make 'em like Paul Reynolds anymore...witty, likeable, but most of all, a real broadcaster.

"BIG 13" thanks Connie Reynolds and daughters Carol and A.J. for their memories of Paul Reynolds.

One of the most frequently asked questions directed to the BIG 13 site is whether any tapes or films of Shock Theatre survive. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Although Shock was video taped in advance of Friday night, the same reel was used weekly and therefore previous programs were wiped out by the new recording. Video tape was $150 a reel in 1960's money, and the economics of supplying new tape stock each week didn't warm the heart of WTVT's accounting department. Any tapes that did survive were later discarded or lost. It's sad but not unusual in local television.

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Those protestors in front of Channel 13 didn't just show up by coincidence. Larry Wiezycki admits to having a hand in their appearance: "I called some of my friends and mentioned that 'Shock' had been cancelled and that they should go and picket the station. Some other people had the same idea and a lot of kids showed up with placards protesting the end of 'Shock Theatre.'"

Doug Ibold joined Channel 13 as a cameraman in 1965. Two years later, he was directing the weekly "Shock Theatre" taping on Friday afternoons. Here's a story that we'll call "double trouble."

"We were getting cards and letters from the audience saying that 'Shock' was played by Paul Reynolds. Joe Wiezycki and Paul came up with a funny way of diffusing that perception. Paul pre-recorded all of Shock's dialogue, and then I dressed up as 'Shock' Armstrong and started hosting the show. I had cue cards and lip synced to Paul's playback. Then, we had Paul Reynolds come on as guest! So there was Paul and 'Shock' together on screen. As 'Shock,' I bereted and belittled Paul. It threw the audience into a tizzy, because here was 'Shock' talking to Paul Reynolds. Of course, the audience wasn't as sophisticated in those days. It was a lot of fun."

Gil Muro joined the station as a cameraman in 1968. When Paul Reynolds left for WXII, the crew would share duties for the weekly "Shock Theatre" openings.

"My involvement with "Shock Theatre" was on certain Fridays, a group of us would produce a silly audio track and play it during the intro to the first movie. We would set up the plastic skull 'Shock' skull and sometimes add special lighting. One week I used my own head lit up with bad lighting and sound effects.

Pulse Extra!

For years I've wondered who made the mask used by Paul Reynolds to portray Shock Armstrong. After some internet research, I found a site called "BOX OF MONSTERS" that specializes in masks and mask making. An interview with Verne Langdon revealed that the Don Post Studios produced the Frankenstein mask used on 'Shock Theatre.' Selling for $25.00, the mask covered Reynold's head and was secured in the back by a zipper. Here's a vintage ad for the Don Post line:

To learn all about Don Post masks and more, go to

(Courtesy Box of

Behind-the-scenes view of the Shock head setup.
Channel 13's "Pulse" globe is hidden under black cloth
behind Shock's head.

Thanks to Doug and Gil for their 'Shock'-ing stories. To find out where Doug and Gil are today, see 'Where Are They Now?'