Gravesend Manor


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:

Comments

Anonymous said…
How I loved this show as a child! Although the horror films shown were often of the "Mexican Wrestling Vampires" genre, the gang at WOI-TV did a wonderful job of entertaining the kids on Saturday nights!

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!
Anonymous said…
I was another faithful Fan of Gravesend Manor on Saturday nights. The neighbor kids would gather at our house, we would start making several Chef Boy Ar Dee pizzas (spelling) in the boxes, remember those Then we'd be ready for the show at 10 or 11, I forget which. We did this for a number of years..This was in the late 50s early 60s. Very fond memories.All the performers were teachers or students and part of the TV Dept. at the University of Iowa. I now enjoy Svengoolie on MeTV
I loved 'Boris Cutyourheadoffski' And the one night he was reading a 'recipe' for a magic stew. He got tripped up on an ingriedient... Wolf balls... I mean bowels... LOL !
wendy renner said…
Gravesend Manor was televised from the TCA (Telecommunicative Arts)-Channel 5 studios at Iowa State University in Ames NOT University of Iowa, Iowa City. Great show. Some of the characters were my professors. Fun people.
Thomas Dreyer said…
On a whim, I googled and found this. Every week I looked forward to Gravesend Manor and Malcom and the cast. Great campy humor and I loved the "horror" movies. Pretty tame by today's standards. "The Blob", "Tarantula", "Killer Shrews", the old Lon Chaney frame-by-fram changing into the Werewolf. The "skits" were a great part of the show and I loved it. The station was actually out of Ames, not Des Moines, as I remember. WOI was owned then by Iowa State U. I've often commented on the show, but this is the first I've seen anything of it since early 60's. Thanks for the clean fun without the gore.
Anonymous said…
On a whim, I googled and found this. Every week I looked forward to Gravesend Manor and Malcom and the cast. Great campy humor and I loved the "horror" movies. Pretty tame by today's standards. "The Blob", "Tarantula", "Killer Shrews", the old Lon Chaney frame-by-fram changing into the Werewolf. The "skits" were a great part of the show and I loved it. The station was actually out of Ames, not Des Moines, as I remember. WOI was owned then by Iowa State U. I've often commented on the show, but this is the first I've seen anything of it since early 60's. Thanks for the clean fun without the gore.
1AceGuy said…
Around 1974-75 or so (maybe '76?), they did a remake of the original Gravesend Manor from the 60's - this one was called "Son of Gravesend Manor." It was on Saturday nights and started pretty late at night - 11:30 or so. WOI would run a syndicated Dolly Parton and Bobby Goldsboro show before their "Son of GM" show. The main characters were Malcolm the Butler (aka also voice of Catrina Crocodile puppet on Betty Lou's "House with the Magic Window", the Duke of Desdemona (who was also the voice of Gregory Lion puppet, also on "HWTMW" - I think the Duke and Betty Lou were actually divorced in real life!), and then Boris Cutyourheadoffski (if he also voiced a puppet on Betty Lou's show). As I recall, in the mid-70's, they showed a lot of Mexican horror films, many produced and starring Abel Salazar, which were dubbed in English - and some were quite good and some were pretty cheesy. But the Gravesend Manor folks did these skits at the show's opening, before and after commercial breaks, and at the end, usually with some kind of "storyline" or problem, which is never really resolved - it just gets worse. (The Duke used the same "Bozo-like" voice for his character, just as he did for Gregory Lion. I don't think he really talked like that - his last name was Varnum, I think.) Anyhow, I was in 7th Grade in '74-'75, and watching these films on Saturday nights was the highlight of my week. I was not doing that well in 7th grade math, and my mom was threatening to ban me from watching "Gravesend Manor" unless I could pull at least a C in Math!!!!

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.

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