ToquiNotes: Celebrating Life of "Chilly Billy" Cardille, a TV Icon who Lovingly Scared Multiple Generations

By Jeff Toquinto on October 28, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog originally appeared in September of 2014 and is being brought back out as Halloween approaches. For those of you who remember this man and this show, I hope it brings a smile to your face. A few modification to the original blog have been made.
 
When I first heard that Meadowbrook Mall would be host to a first-ever “Zombie Walk” a few years ago and continued with their fourth one last weekend, I was pretty certain that it would draw a big crowd. That first year, I wondered how big the crowd would be.
 
My thoughts were never impacted because I thought it was a bad idea; far from it. I’ve seen more than one member of my own family completely infatuated with the Walking Dead television series that resumed last week. The craze still continues with the Walking Dead and it also continued for the Zombie Walk.
 
From almost all accounts, there was another big crowd that drug their bodies through the mall a week ago.
 
While the “zombie” phenomenon might still be considered somewhat new, the fact that folks are infatuated with things that might scare them – monsters let’s call them – is far from new. And in this area and all throughout the tri-state area, folks in my generation and perhaps a generation prior have one man to thank for it – Bill Cardille.
 
You may remember him as Chilly Billy Cardille. Certainly, that’s the name I remember and as the Zombies have now left Meadowbrook Mall and we’re just a few days away from Halloween, I thought it would be entirely appropriate to discuss a man who was such a large part of many of our lives growing up.
 
Long before humanity had the pleasure of watching the Kardashians and the Real Housewives – and if you can’t note the sarcasm there, my apologies – as part of television’s 100-plus channel lineup, the television knob pre-remote control days in my home started at around channel 2 and end somewhere near 13. I believe it was on Channel 11, which was first WIIC and then I believe (and still is) WPXI out of Pittsburgh, Cardille had “Chiller Theatre” late into Saturday night and well into Sunday morning. It was there he became known as “Chilly Billy.”
 
For whatever reason, it was something big between my father and I. Many Saturdays he would ask me if I was ready to watch whatever was being featured from Frankenstein to the Creature from the Black Lagoon or whatever horror or science fiction flick was available and I would attempt to stay up. This was actually back when I could fall asleep and stay asleep.
 
For 20 years the show was on the air doing its best to frighten young and old alike. In fact, it lasted from 1963 up until 1983 and perhaps my biggest regret is falling asleep with several of my friends as part of a sleepover that included as its centerpiece staying up with chips and popcorn to watch the Japanese version of Godzilla vs. King Kong. To this day, even though it’s readily available, I’ve never watched the movie as sort of homage to a missed opportunity from my youth.
 
I digress.
 
When I first wrote this blog, Cardille was still alive. It wasn't long after, on July 21, 2016, that he passed away at the age of 87 due to cancer.  He died knowing he was beloved, throughout the area and particularly in Pittsburgh. This blog originated after reading a story seven years ago on the four-year anniversary of “Bill Cardille Day” done by proclamation by the Pittsburgh City Council.
 
You know what; every day should be a Bill Cardille Day. He offered programming back in a much simpler time in a much gentler format in a genre that was meant to scare people. He did it all without profanity, without a steady diet of scantily clad women and men and without any of the non-reality that reality television offers us today.
 
Turns out after all these years, Bill Cardille, or Chilly Billy, was never someone to be afraid of. Rather, he was someone to look up to. Thanks Chilly Billy for all the memories that helped make my younger years special.
 
Editor’s Note: Please list any movies you may have remembered watching on his show in the comments section below.. 


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