It is with much sadness I learned a monster movie icon of my childhood died this last month. Actor Alan Miliar, who played Dr. E. Nick Witty, the host of Saturday afternoon's "Monster Movie Matinee" in the 1970's and 80's passed away at the age of 81.
Monster Movie Matinee was a very low budget program created by Miliar. It aired out of Syracuse, NY on channel 3 every Saturday afternoon. These were the days before cable network TV. Each week Dr. E. Nick Witty and his assistant Epal ( Bill Lape ) hosted a horror classic from the 30's 40's amd 50's. To my knowledge, unless you went to the movies it was one of the only day time programs to show monster movies on TV at the time.
Dr. Witty was always just out of view of the camera with his back to us in a high back chair or I think he was in a coffin at times. We only ever saw his hand with long black fingernails and big rings on his fingers but he had a very distinctive voice and laugh. The only character we could fully see was Epal and he was a pretty gruesome looking guy with a big scar and an eye patch.
|Epal, and Dr. Witty's hand in the foreground|
I learned their budget was so bad that most of their set design was pulled together from garage sales, thrift stores and such and the opening scene with the camera rolling across a cemetery towards a mansion on a hilltop was a model that by today's standards is pretty laughable.
...It all seemed so realistic at the time!
Here is one of the last know videos of Alan Miliar where he describes how each monster has it's own "trademark" and we get to listen to his famous laugh. It's kind of cool now to be able to put a face to the voice we listened to as kids.
God bless him.