SUZANNE WALDRON PETTY – THEATER ACTRESS & TV'S TARANTULA GHOUL

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  • #25056
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Suzanne M. “Sue” Waldron was born in Portland, Oregon on July 23, 1931 to Henrietta (Beyer) and Stuart Arthur Waldron. They had married in Butte, Montana 8-2-1921, moving to Portland in 1929, living at Avon Manor: 481 Brazee St., Apt. 8 (now 909 N.E. Brazee St) where Henrietta was Apartment Manager. Stuart was Sales Supervisor at Northwest Electric Co.

    In 1931 they moved to 851 East 76th St. (now 3943 N.E. 76th Ave.) In 1938 the family moved to: 3725 N.E. 70th Ave. where Stuart & Henrietta would live until their deaths. In March 1943 Henrietta began work at the district office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as a civil engineer tech. for 19 years.

    By November 1943 Suzanne, 12, was a member of The Oregonian newspapers YOUNG OREGONIAN’S and was reported taking tap dancing. By March 1946 Suzanne’s father was working in Montgomery Ward & Co., Portland mail order dept. On June 9, 1950 Suzanne graduated from Washington High School at public auditorium.

    In 1951 she began at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico where Suzanne received “extensive stage and radio drama experience.” On June 14, 1952 it was announced Suzanne Waldron was a SCHOLARSHIP WINNER for Lewis & Clark College Repertory (Fir Acres Summer theatre stage).

    On July 10, 1952 she began acting in the Fir Acres suspense drama “Rebecca” playing the role of Mrs. Danver’s mysterious but domineering housekeeper. Next she played in “An Inspector Calls” as Sybil a socially prominent wife. Both roles won her local acclaim.

    Beginning October 1, 1952 Suzanne played her first role at PORTLAND CIVIC THEATRE, at: 1530 S.W. Yamhill, in Sidney Kingsley’s “Detective Story.” Back at Fir Acres she was now part of the technical staff in “properties” (objects used on stage). On December 11, 1952 Suzanne received her first lead role as Mary in the Fir Acres Christmas play “Family Portrait.”

    Beginning on March 4, 1953 she appeared in Fir Acres “Men In White.” On July 30, 1953 Suzanne played 2nd lead in Fir Acres “The Corn Is Green.”

    Suzanne then joined the MAGIC RING REPERTORY COMPANY in the play “Sight Unseen” beginning November 4, 1953 at: Alexander Oumansky’s Magic Ring Theater-In-The-Round, at: 128 N.W. 23rd Ave., followed by “Venus Observed” on November 11, 1953 and “Present Laughter” December 9, 1953 where she was reviewed:

    “Suzanne Waldron is excellent as the star’s secretary calloused to the foibles of the hectic household.” Herbert L. Larson, Drama Editor, The Oregonian 12-10-53.

    On January 8, 1954 she was in the Magic Ring sophisticated comedy “Amphitryon 38.” Then the comedy hit “On Monday Next” beginning February 19, 1954.

    On March 19, 1954 Magic Ring’s “Twelfth Night” and a review: “Suzanne Waldron again measured up to the high quality of her portrayals as Olivia.” Herbert L. Larson, Drama Editor, The Oregonian 3-20-54.

    On October 7, 1955 Suzanne played in Magic Ring’s satirical comedy “Oh, Men! Oh, Women!” in a supporting role as a bewildered patient seeking solace and comfort from her domestic difficulties. Then the classic drama “The Seagull” beginning November 11, 1955 and the fantasy farce “Fancy Meeting You Again” on January 13, 1956 and a review:

    “Suzanne Waldron scores as the disjointed maid who goes about her chores.” Herbert L. Larson, Drama Editor, The Oregonian 1-16-56.

    Beginning February 17, 1956 Magic Ring’s mystery drama “Dangerous Corner” where Suzanne played one of the leading roles. In Summer 1957 Suzanne now 26, was cast as host for the new KPTV production HOUSE OF HORROR after producers caught her performance as a witch in a local staging of “Macbeth.”

    On October 9, 1957 HOUSE OF HORROR debuted on KPTV with hostess TARANTULA GHOUL (Suzanne) described as a cross between VAMPIRA (L.A. TV host) and a Charles Addams cartoon in The New Yorker. Cast members were: MILTON (John Hillsbury) a grave robber turned gardener, BABY the boa constrictor and SIR GALAHAD the tarantula.

    10-9-57 debut KPTV ad: WE DARE YOU to watch “HOUSE OF HORROR” (You’ll scream with terror) TARANTULA GHOUL presents “THE THING” RKO’s fabulous 1951 production Wednesday 10:30 pm. Next Wed., Oct. 16: “BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS” with Peter Lorre and Robert Alda, sponsored by MEADOWS PONTIAC. KPTV Ch. 12. P.S. Not recommended for children, sissies or the weak hearted. (Chicken if you don’t watch.).

    HOUSE OF HORROR “movie introductions would last half to three-quarters of an hour and we would reproduce portions of the movie sets. Our productions would cost more than the movies.”

    John Ralston would have the camera pan a miniature graveyard with a haunted house on the hill. “We’d then switch to another set with funny things written on the tombstones. Then we’d come up some full-sized steps to a door which opened with a creak. The camera would move to still another set with a creak. The camera would move to still another set with a coffin. The lid would open and Tarantula’s arm would emerge.

    “We were getting much higher ratings on the introduction than on the movie, so we ran a commercial in the middle of the intro, then another between the intro and the movie. About 20 minutes into the show, Bud Meadows would give the final commercial, telling the viewer to sit back and enjoy the rest of the show.” HOUSE OF HORROR was written and produced by John Ralston.

    October 31, 1957 ad: “Giant Halloween Spook Show! On Stage, In Person, TV’s TARANTULA GHOUL will autograph death certificates in the lobby!” 7:00pm at Gresham’s Hood Theater.

    February 5, 1958 ad: “KPTV channel 12. HOUSE OF HORROR presents “Dracula.” So terrifying even TARANTULA GHOUL won’t watch!! Don’t plan on sleeping if you watch it. 10:30 p.m.”

    March 26, 1958 ad: “KPTV channel 12. HOUSE OF HORROR. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in a four-scream production, The Raven – plus TARANTULA GHOUL’s 1958 Horror Awards. 10:30 p.m.”

    In the March 29, 1958 issue of TV GUIDE magazine TARANTULA GHOUL was pictured rising from a coffin. On May 7, 1958 TARANTULA GHOUL appeared at the LIBERTY THEATER for the debut of the movie “Macabre.” GHOUL arrived in a CASKET by special HEARSE. She appeared at many public functions in costume.

    In the July 1958 issue of TV RADIO MIRROR magazine TARANTULA GHOUL was featured. July 21, 1958 “Behind The Mike” column: “We’re getting disappointed with movies on KPTV’s HOUSE OF HORROR. They ought to get more monster movies. But we are very happy with emcee TARANTULA GHOUL and would like to see more of her, a lot less of commercials. Two Horror Fans, Kelso, Wash.”

    On October 24, 1958 The Oregonian: “TARANTULA GHOUL, the horror hostess with the mostest on local TV, will add chills to customers of the PARAMOUNT THEATER from 7:30 to 8:30pm. Miss Ghoul, garbed in her macabre costume and make-up, will sell tickets to the thrill science-fiction show The Blob and I Married A Monster.”

    Most likely around Halloween 1958 Meadows Records released the 45rpm TARANTULA GHOUL & Her Gravediggers “KING KONG” with flip side “GRAVEYARD ROCK.” On Halloween October 31, 1958 “MIDNIGHT MONSTER SHOW. 12:15am. “Doctor X” Frightening! Guaranteed to give you sweet screams! TARANTULA GHOUL emcees. KPTV channel 12 NBC.

    On December 17, 1958 it was announced that tonight’s HOUSE OF HORROR would be the last. Suzanne had landed a role in a New York show and rehearsals began January 1, 1959. That was the official word to the public. In reality she had become pregnant out of wedlock with fellow KPTV employee, salesman John Petty.

    On December 30, 1959 Suzanne M. Waldron married John Petty in Stevenson, Wash. [John was later KPTV Asst. Sales Manager in 1962; KPTV General Sales Manager in 1963; KPOK Local Sales Manager in 1972; KWJJ General Manager in 1973]

    Beginning February 19, 1960 Suzanne was back on stage, joining the PORTLAND CIVIC THEATRE troupe with “The Desk Set” and co-starred in “See How They Run” April 20, 1962. “Threepenny Opera” was next on June 29, 1962 with Suzanne playing Jenny.

    On October 27, 1962 PORTLAND MAYOR Terry D. Schrunk drove a hearse from City Hall with a 6 foot 6 inch COFFIN containing TARANTULA GHOUL. Suzanne had resurrected Ghoul to serve as hostess for five days of Halloween fun at Christie School Guild’s 5th annual HAUNTED HOUSE, at: 1722 N.E. 11th Ave. Also dug up was HOUSE OF HORROR cast member MILTON (John Hillsbury). Terry Schrunk and Ghoul cut the black ribbon of eight rooms of chills and thrills. Tickets 25c.

    Beginning January 14, 1964 Suzanne was in Civic Theatres “Aspern Papers.” On January 15, 1965 she co-starred in the Civic Theatre tragic farce “Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Bad.” Next came “The Constant Wife” beginning November 2, 1965.

    On March 2, 1966 Suzanne’s father Stuart Arthur Waldron died in Portland at age 70. (born 4-1-1895). On October 4, 1966 Suzanne’s mother Henrietta Waldron died in Portland at age 69. (born 11-16-1896).

    Beginning November 4, 1967 Suzanne Petty starred in “The Inca of Perusalem” at the “Jewish Community Center Theater” 1636 S.W. 13th Ave., with a review:

    “Miss Petty could not be improved upon.” “She is also entirely up to the job of supplying the strength and wit.” Ted Mahar, Drama Editor, The Oregonian 11-12-67.

    On November 18, 1972 “Behind The Mike” column reported KATU’s SINISTER CINEMA host VICTOR IVES had attempted to persuade TARANTULA GHOUL to appear on the show but was turned down. However HOUSE OF HORROR cast member MILTON (John Hillsbury) did appear and took over as host briefly on the November 25, 1972 broadcast.

    On February 1, 1974 Suzanne returned to PORTLAND CIVIC THEATRE in the play “Dinner At Eight” and reviewed: “Suzanne Petty is suitably over bearing as a nonstop talker who seems a strange cross between Rosalind Russell and Phyllis Diller.” Ted Mahar, Drama Editor, The Oregonian 2-9-74.

    In the mid 1970’s the the family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Then to Omaha in 1977. In June 1982 Suzanne Petty passed away in Omaha, Nebraska at age 50 from complications caused by colon cancer.

    Special Thanks to Joel Miller.

    References: Christopher Bickel post, Motoya Nakamura, The Oregonian, Michael Petty post,

    #25340
    Dan Packard
    Keymaster

    A mighty fine write-up Craig!

    Cool looking Tudor style apartments (with sunken garage) on NE Brazee St. mentioned in first paragraph.

    #25359
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Thanks Dan. WoW, never looked up that address.

    #27438
    John Petty
    Participant

    Craig,
    Thank you for all the research.
    What a wonderful read for my brother and I.
    Yes I am that darn culprit who brought the “House of Horror” Show to an end! 🙂

    John

    #27454
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Thanks John! It was fun to research.

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