When I was growing up in the late 60’s and early 70’s my favorite TV shows were Dark Shadows, Star Trek, The Avengers and Wild Wild West.
Out of that lot Star Trek had the biggest impact on me because that’s where I found my love of science and nursed a dream of flying a space ship one day.
But the show that was closest to my heart was Nightmare Theatre.
Starting when I was almost five, every Friday night I would park myself in front of our TV with my stuffed Snoopy, a bowl of popcorn and I would wait for the Count to rise from his Coffin and show me a movie that was guaranteed to scare me out of my five year old brain.
How bad did those movies scare me?
We used to live in an old spooky looking house and my bedroom at the time was upstairs.In order to get to it I had to walk up a scary set of stairs and through an unfinished attic to my bedroom. Some nights I never made it up the stairs because I was sure that whatever monster I had seen on TV was waiting for me in closet which- true story- I wouldn’t use. I never opened that door. I used to shove my close under my bed to avoid using it. Anyway. I would fall asleep on the stairs.
Then one Friday night after seeing a particularly disturbing film, on my trip to bed I had this picture of the Count and His Coffin at the top of my attic stairs and I could see his coffin open and clear as being able to see my own face in the bathroom mirror I saw him sit up and….
I wasn’t afraid to finish my trip up the stairs, through the spooky attic to my bedroom.
I loved the Count to pieces- seriously. I was a fan and keep in mind my Dad’s family started to watch Nightmare Theatre when it first aired in 1964 and that is the year I was born. So he was a family hero and we all loved him.
Here’s some info on The Count- The Vampire who scared the Monsters in my attic away and helped me learn to not be afraid of the dark- indeed- he taught me to enjoy it.
Joe Towey- ” The Count “
From Wikipedia: Nightmare Theatre was one of the more prominent late-night horror programs of the 1960s and 1970s. During its fourteen-year run, this show introduced several generations of television viewers to the horror films of yesteryear, across the Pacific Northwest. Created and starring Joe Towey and produced by Seattle-based KIRO-TV, and utilizing much of the same cast and crew as the similarly popular The J.P. Patches Show Nightmare Theatre reached an audience that stretched as far north as Alaska, as far east as Idaho, and south into Oregon, as well as Canada] Its residential horror host, Joe Towey (The Count) – , has accrued a cult following over the years, much in the same vein as his make-up laden peers Maila Nurmi (“Vampira”), John Zacherle (“Zacherley”), and Cassandra Peterson (“Elvira”).
Joe Towey– The Count ( from Wikepedia )
After the show ended in 1978, Joe continued to make live appearances as The Count for such special events as parties and charity auctions in Washington State, usually alongside longtime friend and partner-in-crime Chris Wedes aka J.P. Patches. (Chris made at least one guest appearance on Nightmare Theatre, but he never directed the show as some sources erroneously claim.) Towey died in 1989 at the age of 55, having been in ill health for more than a year. During his thirty-year stay at KIRO-TV, Joe Towey received two Emmy Awards for his work as director on The J.P. Patches Show, and another for set designer on Nightmare Theatre.
Joseph C Towey BIRTH 18 May 1933 DEATH 9 Apr 1989 (aged 55) Seattle, King County, Washington, USA BURIAL Holyrood Cemetery Shoreline, King County, Washington, USA
RIP Joe Towey
You were a bright spot in my childhood.