Gravesend Manor ran on WOI-TV, Channel 5, in Des Moines, Iowa during the 1950s and 1960s. It was hosted by Malcom the Butler, who was joined by The Duke of Desmodas, Claude the Great, Clyde, and Esmarelda.
Watch a short interview with the stars along with the only surviving footage here:
Sure, it was tough for a kid to stay awake through the 10 o'clock news (with Bill Milldyke and Bill Jensen, the meterologist with the black sharpie pen), and then there was the slew of 1/2 hour country music shows from Porter Wagonner and "Whisperin' Bill Anderson", but at midnight, with the Coca-Cola and popcorn at the ready, it was time for "Gravesend Manor" and the spook show!
Funny, off-the-wall and sometimes scary, it will remain a vague, yet crucial part of my childhood. Thanks Malcom, Duke and Esmerelda! You will always be a part of my memories!
I was such a fan of the show, I used to send them typewritten ideas for their storylines/skits. It seemed like they might have actually used some of my ideas (or variations thereof).
Anyhow, I really wanted to be a writer, so I actually wrote an article about "Son of Gravesend Manor" and sent it in to "Castle of Frankenstein" magazine. (I had found "Castle of Frankenstein" [an off-on occasionally published horror fan zine at our grocery store check-out in Iowa]). "Castle of Frankenstein" wrote me back with a written note and asked me to send them some photos! I was excited, of course, because this would have been my FIRST published article as a writer!
So I wrote to WOI, and they actually took photos during the time they taped their show that week and sent me these wonderful 8x10 color photos which I sent to Castle of Frankenstein. When that episode aired, they even talked about posing for the photos! (I now only wish I had had the foresight to have somehow made copies of those photos!!!) So I sent them on to "Castle of Frankenstein," and then -- crickets! I never heard anything back. I wrote to them a couple of times, and na da. Only recently did I look up "Castle of Frankenstein" on wikipedia and I think they actually ceased publication around 1975. I think maybe "Son of Gravesend" manor soon ended its run too.