Thursday, July 21, 2016


Longtime Pittsburgh personality and TV host Bill Cardille died at 1:15 a.m. today at his home in McCandless.

Mr. Cardille, 87, recently had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

Mr. Cardille was the co-creator and host of "Chiller Theatre," which has been off the air since January 1984 but is remembered for its late-night horror flicks.

His daughter, Lori Cardille, posted on June 24 on Facebook that her father -- known by the moniker "Chilly Billy" -- was ailing. Thousands of cards and letters arrived in the mail over the next few weeks, and Ms. Cardille said her sister, Maria Johnson, spent last night reading many of them to their father.

“Dad truly was at peace,” she said.

Legions of Pittsburgh-area kids, their parents and Saturday-night babysitters, grew up watching him host “Chiller Theatre” and/or “Studio Wrestling.” To be sitting around the TV set, watching the early black-and-white movies on WIIC (later, WPXI), was for many the height of innocent weekend fun.

His first job in television was at WICU in Erie. Part of his job involved hosting a Saturday-morning spelling bee, then doing commercials for Erie Brewing during half-inning breaks of Cleveland Indians games.

“I don’t drink,” he recalled, “and in those days, you could drink beer on the air... the company sent me a case a week and the engineers would drink it.”

He pretended to take a sip during the commercial “and then I’d pour mine down the sewer. They were the happiest rats in Erie.”

One day, after yet another game ended early and there was on-air time to kill, he asked it it were possible to get a camera to the station’s front sidewalk. From there, he proceeded to interview people on the street, just chatting them up.

It was something he later enjoyed during the closing of “Studio Wrestling.” As the crowd filed out, Mr. Cardille would interview the fans.

He and wife, Louise, returned to Pittsburgh on Labor Day weekend, 1962. He’d been offered a management position in Erie but turned it down, convinced his future was as a director and announcer.

“So I came here and made $110 a week, with a wife and two kids. I thought there was a future,” Mr. Cardille once said.

Funeral arrangements were not complete, although Ms. Cardille said there likely will be private and public services early next week...


  1. Sorry - never heard of him - I'm a west-coast gal and was around in the 50s when we had the original fright-night host, Maila Nurmi (Vampira) on our local ABC station!

    1. well stay in California with all the fruits and the nuts