At first, people thought it was another gag foisted on us by The Ghoul. Instead, one of Cleveland’s most beloved TV icons indeed left us on the most appropriate of dates, April 1.
The Ghoul, born Ron Sweed, began his TV career in 1963 at the age of 13. After wearing a gorilla suit to a live appearance by his hero at Euclid Beach Park, young Sweed, a Euclid native, was hired by Ghoulardi, played by Ernie Anderson, as an assistant. When Anderson headed to L.A. three years later, Sweed stayed on to help out the Hoolihan and Big Chuck Show, which replaced the Ghoulardi show.
During his time with Anderson, Sweed managed to meet the Beatles by sneaking into the band’s hotel with a camera covered in Channel 8 stickers. His photos were shown on that evening’s newscast.
In 1971, with Anderson’s blessing, Sweed took the Ghoulardi-inspired Ghoul character to Channel 61, where he stayed until Channel 43 absorbed its rival in 1975. He continued on with The Ghoul in Detroit where he had become quite popular via a syndication deal.
While Channel 50 there had dropped him in 1975, Channel 20 almost immediately picked up the show. Other cities, though, like Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, L.A., and San Francisco weren’t keen. However, Detroit audiences took to him. When Channel 61 came back on the air in Cleveland as WCLQ in 1980, The Ghoul also returned.
Always a bit raunchier than his counterpart Superhost on Channel 43 or his former employers Hoolihan and Big Chuck (Big Chuck and Little John by the time he returned to Channel 61), The Ghoul made fun of local celebrities, abused his inanimate mascot Froggie, and “feuded” with local D.J. (and close pal in real life) Uncle Vic from WGCL 98.5.
The Ghoul left the air for a while in the mid-80s when Channel 61 began airing the Home Shopping Network 24 hours a day. He was on and off the air in both Detroit and Cleveland until winding up on WBNX, Channel 55 in July of 1998 where he remained for 6 years. After that, he appeared in a few local furniture commercials, did a radio show, and had a run on the Internet. He remains a significant part of Cleveland (AND Detroit) TV history.