(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)
from September 18, 2009
We had a thing about movies on TV in Detroit. Mainly, that we didn't always like to tune in to watch the movie itself.
Often it was the sideshow, the stuff between clips of celluloid, that drew us to the TV, back in the day.
There was The Ghoul on Saturday nights, and the sheer quality of the flicks that The Ghoul foistered on his viewers made you want to look away, until there was a break and it was time for The Ghoul, Froggy, and Cheez Whiz.
There was Rita Bell and her "Prize Movie," on in the mornings. Rita was a sweet lady (my wife once met her, working in the same building, and said she was very nice) who'd play a movie and then solicit phone calls in between, with lucky callers winning stuff.
Then there was Bill Kennedy.
Ole Bill, the former B-movie actor with the gravelly voice, which was made even croakier thanks to the cigarettes he chain-smoked on the air.
Bill Kennedy, who bellowed into the camera and sat behind a desk in front of faux bookcases. Sometimes Bill would have a guest in the studio---often times an actor or film director---and they'd chit-chat, putting the movie of the day on hold.
Bill would take phone calls, and viewers loved to pick his brain, asking him to regale them with stories of his days on movie sets.
Some B-movie actors grow up to be president. Kennedy settled for merely being King of Detroit afternoon TV.
"Bill Kennedy at the Movies" was the name of the show, and it was really a misnomer, because Bill liked to talk. And talking isn't very mannerly behavior when you're trying to watch a movie.
No, it was really "Bill Kennedy About the Movies." Bill had the stories, and whether they were mostly true or not, it didn't matter because Kennedy enraptured his audience, which was mostly female.
He'd call his female callers "dear" and "sweetie," and try that nowadays.
The quality of movies Bill played was on a higher plane than what The Ghoul served up, but not by much. Again, when it came to Kennedy's show, the star wasn't the movie---it was the host.
Just like with The Ghoul and Rita Bell.
They did Bill's show from both channel 50 in Detroit and channel 9 over in Windsor, depending on what part of history you're talking about. Either way, Kennedy brightened the weekday afternoons for a gazillion homemakers and retired dears and sweeties.
Bill's long gone, of course. Rita Bell isn't with us anymore, either.
He's still kicking, somewhere. Overday.