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'Son Of Svengoolie' Debuted 35 Years Ago Today

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 16, 2014 7:00PM

A historic moment in Chicago television history occurred 35 years ago today. That’s when Jerry G. Bishop, the original Svengoolie, passed the torch over to Rich Koz when “Son of Svengoolie” debuted on WFLD-TV June 16, 1979.

The show aired at 8 p.m., an odd time slot even back then, and the movie that aired with the program was “In the Year 2889,” a made-for-TV movie where survivors of a post-nuclear wasteland fend themselves against zombies. Then as now, the films serve as the foundation for Koz to launch into an array of cornball jokes, historic tidbits of the films and parody musical numbers.

This opening in the video, where Bishop gives his blessing to Koz to continue the Svengoolie tradition, shows how Koz’s original “Son” was a blend of Bishop’s counterculture “Svengoolie” portrayal and the more Bortsch Belt rendition of the character for which Koz is known for today.

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