Charles “Big Chuck” Schodowski made us laugh as Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson’s sidekick. He later picked up laughs with Bob “Hoolihan” Wells and “Li’l” John Rinaldi. As his memoir, Big Chuck!, arrives, we talk to the late-night movie host about his 47 years on television.
Interview by Dave “Coondog” O’Karma
Back when I was a kid, Cleveland was like a series of small countries. You had the Polish and the Germans and the Italians, and everyone had their own barbershop, their own gas station, their own movie theater. All different places, but all the same. That was Cleveland.
Clevelanders are very loyal, but we get disappointed. Like, I don’t hate the Browns. … I just get angry with them. I mean, ya gotta get mad. And that’s because ya love ’em. Other things don’t make you that mad. We care enough to get mad.
I was out of high school and worked in the foundry and was the only white guy on the night shift, and all we listened to was “Moondog,” Alan Freed. That’s where I learned to love that music. That’s all we played on Ghoulardi. Those were all my records. Ernie was into big bands. But it was a late-night show, and I thought we needed something bluesy.
I was waiting at a light and was looking at this big TV transmitter, and I thought it must be really cool to work in TV. Because back then, TV people were sort of revered. It was like a doctor or lawyer. Things have changed now. You have teenyboppers doing the news.
Check back Dec. 1 for full story and an excerpt from Big Chuck’s new book.