Cigar City Magazine/Sept-Oct 2011

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ON THE COVER The Tampa Natives Steve Cannella dressed as Dr. Paul Bearer and Mario Núñez as Shock Armstrong

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October 2011 | Volume 6 | Issue 34

FEATURES The Tampa Native Show | 10 TV at WTVT | 12 I’ll Be Lurking For You | 18 Who Murdered Florentino Martinez? | 22

EXTRAS This Month in Florida History | 8 Lost Landmark | 8 Interview with Tedd Webb | 26 The Kitchen | 28 Mama Knows | 30

IN THE MONTH OF OCTOBER October 1, 1867 The first post-Civil War voter registration results were filed in Tallahassee. Some 15, 441 African-Americans registered to vote compared to 11,151 whites. October 8, 1885 The first trees were cleared for streets in Ybor City by workers under the direction of civil engineer Gavino Gutierrez. October 15, 1934 National Airlines began operations in Florida with the inauguration of a 142-mile airmail run between St. Petersburg and Daytona Beach, with stops in Tampa, Lakeland and Orlando. National Airlines began its operations with a second-hand single engine Ryan airplane. October 21, 1958 Two USAF Bomarc missiles were launched within less than 10 seconds of each other at Cape Canaveral. October 30, 1985 The shuttle (STS 61-A) was launched today from Cape Canaveral.

All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and one name will be selected as the winner. Your name will be featured in our next issue of Cigar City Magazine. Good luck!

Email your answer and your name to: by October 15, 2011. 8

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What began as a social experiment is becoming a social phenomenon. in March 2009, Steve Cannella created a Facebook page called tampa natives that was dedicated to those who were born and raised in the tampa area. He was new to Facebook and was still tinkering with its outreach possibilities. He had heard of others reconnecting with friends of their youth through Facebook and wondered how many people could reconnect if there was a Facebook page dedicated to those indigenous to the area. By mid-april, it appeared to be a failure. He had only 17 members and there was rarely activity on the page. in early May, out of nowhere, Cannella’s tampa native’s page jumped to over 100 people. “i literally had 17 people, hit refresh and had over 100,” he laughed. “Just like that. i have no idea why it grew so suddenly.” He does know, however, why it continued to grow–memories and teamwork. His membership was growing, yet the page’s activity was still stagnant. He began uploading old photos of tampa hoping to spur conversation, but no one commented. then, one day he discovered the magic words, “Do you remember?” through wall posts, Cannella began asking tampa native’s Facebook members if they remembered certain haunts of their youth–pizza parlors, restaurants, cafés, parks, etc. Just like that, he found the formula. the Facebook pages suddenly became inundated with posts by its members responding to Cannella’s memory jogs. in June 2009, the page had a firsthand impact on his life. While attending a Jefferson High/Hillsborough High School mixer at Bar Louie in the international Plaza, he met his soon-to-be-BFF Mario núñez, a Jefferson High School graduate who was at the event with his wife. they were both born and raised in tampa and shared friends in common, yet they had never met before that night. núñez 10

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was a member of the tampa natives Facebook page and approached Cannella to compliment him on the venture. the two began talking and felt an immediate friendship bond. “We have been attached at the hip ever since,” laughed núñez. “Mario was the energy tampa natives needed to take it to the next level,” said Cannella. núñez was so enthralled with the tampa natives Facebook page that he asked Cannella if he could become his partner. Cannella agreed and under the dual-management of the new friends, the tampa natives Facebook page hit unbelievable numbers. Within a few months of their partnership, the page’s member list jumped to over 6,000. Old friends were reconnecting. new friendships were forged. and dozens upon dozens of memories were shared through wall posts and photo uploads. “We underestimated how much people wanted a forum to talk about the tampa of their youth,” said Cannella. in January 2010, they took it to another level. they decided to hold a tampa natives new year’s eve party. “We thought it was time that tampa natives began meeting face-to-face and not only behind the computers,” said núñez. the party was a hit. Over 100 people attended the event. they drank. they ate. they danced. they laughed. they reminisced. everyone had a blast. it was such a success that the number one topic on the Facebook page for the weeks following was, “When are we going to meet up again?” “We were blown away by the response,” admitted núñez. “So we decided to keep it going.” the next tampa natives meet-up was at a tampa Bay rays game. Columbia restaurant owner richard gonzmart purchased the group shirts in rays’ colors that said tampa natives on the front and

the Columbia restaurant on the back. Over 40 tampa natives members attended and everyone again had a good time. a few more successful get-togethers were held and then núñez came up with an idea to again take the group to the yet another level–television. a veteran of public access who once produced an award-winning show with his son, núñez pitched the idea of producing a live, interactive tampa natives show. each week they would discuss certain topics, show corresponding photos and share viewers’ memories of the topics through phone calls, emails and Facebook. “We had the computer open in front of us the entire show and would read the memories posted on Facebook,” said a proud Cannella. “it was fantastic.” and it was too much for two people to handle. Chores such as building the set each week, logging phone calls and preparing topics were daunting for two people. after the first episode, they realized they needed to make their duo a trio.

Mario Núñez as Groucho Marxx & Steve Cannella as Dr. Paul Bearer

guests that included such local legends as richard gonzmart and Lou Piniella. they even had tampa natives from around the world tuning in live via Public access’ live internet broadcast. “We have a regular viewer who lives in Brazil,” said Cannella. this past September, tampa natives was awarded a “Best of the Bay award” by Creative Loafing for “Best Public access Show.” as seems to the theme for the tampa natives, now that they have conquered one medium, they are ready to once again take it to yet another level. they have left the public access studio behind and teamed with tampa Digital to begin the tampa natives webcast. Sally núñez’ had a friend who was close with some of tampa Digital’s higher ups who was able to put the deal together. “We’ve each had our own part in helping this thing to grow,” said núñez, referring to Cannella founding the group, himself suggested the public access show and his wife bringing them to tampa Digital.

Pro-Wrestler Mike Graham, Sally & Mario Núñez and Steve Cannella

núñez’ wife, Sally, volunteered. However, in order to work on set she had to either be certified by Public access or become an on-air personality. Certification takes time and they needed her working on the next episode. She would have to be talent. However, she was terrified to be on live television. “So i came up with a brilliant plan,” said núñez in a faux arrogance. “to be considered talent she only needed to be on the show for a few seconds. So i created the ’15 Minute girl.’” When the hour-long show had only 15 minutes to go, Sally núñez would walk across the set with a notepad that said 15 minutes so núñez and Cannella knew they had to begin wrapping the show up. and like that, the legend of the “15 Minute girl” was born. Her role was so laughably minimal that she became a cult favorite of the show’s fans. a funny thing happened as episode after episode was aired–Sally became comfortable on camera. She ceased walking across the set once an episode and took a seat, as she explained, “at the big boys’ table.” “and that is how the tampa natives trio came to be,” laughed núñez. the show was a hit. Phone calls, emails and Facebook posts poured in. tampa natives from throughout tampa shared their memories of their city through the show. they discussed historic businesses like the Colonnade, Columbia restaurant and old favorites that are no longer around like downtown’s goody goody Burger, and favorite events of tampa past such as West tampa Little League’s heyday as one of the great leagues in the nation and when gasparilla Day Parade was part of the State Fair. they added on air

Baseball Legend Lou Piniella Sally & Mario Núñez

Public access was great, the tampa natives trio stated, but tampa Digital offers them a topnotch crew and production equipment. Some of the show will be filmed in a studio and some will be filmed on location. For instance, if they are discussing a historic building, they can now film part of the show from the building rather than simply flashing still photos of it on the screen. “We are not big time yet,” said núñez” but we are hoping we will be there soon.” if the webcast goes well, perhaps local network television is in their future? “We’ll see,” said núñez, preferring to stay humble. “it seems like a dream, but we never thought this thing would be this big. Who knows what else we’ll do.”

The Tampa Natives webcast begins on Wednesday, October 5 at 8 p.m. It can be viewed online from their show’s Facebook page or from their website at




A Suncoast Baby Boomer realizes his dream of working at WTVT with the Bay Area’s best-known broadcasters. 12

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Mike Clark it's hard to believe a television station could have such a great impact on my life. Well, it wasn't just any television station we’re talking about here…it’s WtVt, Channel 13, or “Big 13” as it was known to viewers in the early years of tampa Bay tV. those call letters, WtVt, are golden as far as i’m concerned. there were only three Suncoast tV stations on the air in 1955: WtVt, Channel 13 (CBS), WFLa, Channel 8 (nBC), and WSUn, Channel 38 (aBC). Most viewers could only watch WtVt and WFLa on the VHF channels because their sets often lacked UHF reception for WSUn’s Channel 38. that situation provided large audience shares for Channels 8 and 13. i feel so lucky to have grown up in the 50’s and 60’s watching WtVt. i enjoyed its CBS network programs such as “Captain Kangaroo,” “Sky King” and “red Skelton”. But there was plenty of on-air talent right in Channel 13’s own studio. Some of the names that come to mind in news, weather, and sports include Hugh Smith, roy Leep and ‘Salty Sol’ Fleischman. Wonderful WtVt personalities were spread over the rest of the schedule too. Country gentleman ernie Lee started the broadcast day with his folksy manner and songs on the “good Day” show. For youngsters Channel 13 provided its own space hero, “3-D Danny,” who fought villains assisted by his loyal robot, ruffnik. ‘Shock’ armstrong, ‘the all-american ghoul,’ scared up a Friday night double feature of horror films, and then there was my personal favorite, the vibrant hostess of “Popeye Playhouse,” Mary ellen. So pretty, talented and natural on camera, Mary ellen seemed like a next door neighbor, only armed with Popeye cartoons, a drawing board for her “Funny Face” ‘Shock’ Armstrong, The All-American Ghoul caricatures she drew blending the initials of her young studio guests, and an ornery sidekick, Poopdeck the parrot. the amazing part of this story is that any of these people could have been on the network…they were tHat gOOD. Some of WtVt’s news people did indeed move on to bigger markets or network jobs but they all remembered working at WtVt as a special time in their lives.

BIG 13 IS ON THE SCENE Channel 13 was called “Big 13” in promotion of the time and it became my favorite station. i watched WtVt’s local programs every day and followed the station’s technical advances such as the debut of local, live color in June of 1966, just a few days ahead of their chief competitor, WFLa. (trouncing WFLa in the ratings and production output was always a goal at Big 13). Channel 13’s live mobile unit took Suncoast viewers to local events including the annual gasparilla invasion and parade, St. Pete’s Festival of States parade, the Florida State Fair (then held adjacent the University of tampa), the State Legislature in tallahassee, and on board aircraft carriers for early naSa Mercury space shot recoveries. i’ll never forget how the mobile unit was used to cover the opening ceremonies of the Howard Frankland bridge. reporter Joe Loughlin used a wireless microphone to interview then-governor Leroy Collins as they rode together in an open Cadillac over the new span. amazing! it was obvious that the quality of WtVt’s news and local productions would be hard to beat. WFLa tried mightily with their popular news anchor arch Deal and “Uncle Bruce,” a kids show hosted by pastor Bruce rodrick. WSUn, the tampa Bay area’s very first broadcast tV station, crumpled and went away, and while newcomers WLCy and WtOg put on decent local schedules no one topped the powerhouse of WtVt. even the station’s noontime program, “Pulse Plus!,” proved a ratings winner with 50% and above audience shares for most of the 70’s and 80’s. ‘TVT AND ME i recall the day in august, 1962, when i first set foot in the station. it was my tenth birthday and i was one of a dozen kids on the set of “the Mary ellen Show.” i was entranced by the sight of the two black and white rCa cameras aimed towards us, a microphone boom suspended above, the maze of lighting instruments in the grid and the handful of crewmembers silently doing their jobs. the smell of tarnow hot dogs (one of the program’s sponsors) cooking for us off-camera also wafted through the air. the crew let me wander among the equipment during commercials and i took some shots of the set with my small ansco camera. as i absorbed the magic of a television studio during a live broadcast, the electricity of the moment became a realization that changed my life: i belonged at WtVt! On the spot i vowed to get a job there some day. Flash forward a decade after tours of duty at a PBS station and a local cable outlet, and a few rounds of interviews with the station’s assistant production manager, my time had come. it was just a few days past my 20th birthday in august, 1972, when i pulled my car into the parking lot of WtVt’s studios at 3213 W. Kennedy Blvd. gazing up at the iconic The Mary Ellen Show WtVt-branded transmission tower i couldn’t believe it had been exactly ten years since i made the childhood vow to work there; and here i was reporting for my first day as a member of the production crew. excited? nervous? those would be understatements. to be part of a prominent tampa Bay institution such as WtVt with its (locally) famous on-air personalities and aura of excellence in programming and production was amazing to me, even though the job was parttime and paid around $4.50 an hour. i would have paid them to work there! OCtOBer



My first few weeks at the station were spent getting up to speed on the equipment, which was always the latest and the finest. My fellow crew members were young, extremely creative and determined to be the best camera operators, lighting directors, and floor managers as possible. as i settled into floor directing “Pulse” news i was in awe of the personalities that i’d grown up watching but didn’t go out of my way to fawn or annoy them. My job would involve daily contact with these broadcasting giants and i wanted to come across as professional and grow in the organization. People had long careers at Channel 13. Hugh Smith–29 years. andy Hardy–30 years, roy Leep–40 years and so on. Maybe i would grow old at WtVt…if i was lucky. LIVE FROM THE SCENE Hugh Smith, the alpha male anchor and news director when i was hired, had arrived as a reporter in 1963, was promoted to assistant news director three years later, and appointed news director in 1968, a position he held for twelve years. He relinquished the title when the news operation became too big for one man to manage and anchor at the same time. He then served another nine years as “Pulse” lead anchor. One of Smith’s career highlights was appearing live from a helicopter hovering over downtown tampa in May of 1976. Smith announced the arrival of electronic news gathering at WtVt, a technological jump that allowed live, on-the-spot news coverage with the station’s new “insta-Cam” truck. it was a moment that changed tampa Bay news and further ruffled feathers at WFLa. Smith wasn’t glued to his anchor chair, however. Several times a week he would pack a 16mm Hugh Smith sound-on-film camera package into a WtVt news car, drive downtown, and film his own reports on local politics and government. returning to the station, Smith would write copy while his film was being processed, then edit the footage with a hot splicer and run to the studio to anchor the 6pm newscast. Smith’s on-air style was rather formal, as was that of most anchors of the time who felt that news was important and should be delivered with measured tones. Smith was a somewhat stern taskmaster but many of his reporters were blessed to have his editorial control and commitment to edward r. Murrowstyle journalism. When women gained a foothold as anchors and reporters in the early 70’s Smith’s old-school attitudes didn’t win any friends with the opposite sex and there was constant friction until all parties realized that women were there to stay and the newsroom was no longer the ‘old boys club’. Lesley Schissell and Leslie Spencer were the first women anchors at WtVt for the 11pm “Pulse” news and the noon “Pulse Plus!.” However, it wasn’t until the fall of 1985 that Kelly Craig became WtVt’s first woman co-anchor in the highly rated 6pm block. Smith, who we affectionately nicknamed ‘Hughsy the newsy,’ was somewhat formal with the production crew who ran camera and floor directed during PULSe. However, i saw a different side of him a couple of years into the job when i was sidelined by an appendectomy. Who should saunter into my hospital room one day but the anchor of the #1-rated newscast of tampa Bay….Hugh Smith. Hugh spent a few minutes checking on me and after he left i was the biggest celebrity on the hospital floor. ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER WtVt’s weather department was (and is) the admiration of meteorologists across the country. in the early years the weather department relied upon government forecasts and an outdoor temperature gauge for predictions. a 14

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young man with a passion for weather forecasting, roy Leep, arrived in 1957 to work under chief meteorologist Charles Stump. Leep’s influence would lead the weather department to take on the tone of a naSa laboratory. Promoted to weather service director in 1959, Leep installed Florida’s first radar unit at a television station. So powerful that it covered most of Florida, the unit also drew the ire of MacDill air Force Base, whose commander claimed interference in their own radar operations. Under Leep the weather department was first with satellite mapping, color radar, and later Doppler radar. the installation of an acoustic sounder on the station’s tower resulted in complaints from the station’s neighbors on north a Street, who didn’t appreciate the sounder’s loud ‘chirp’ Meteorologist, Roy Leep heard throughout the neighborhood every few seconds. the unit was modified to remove the weather department’s version of Chinese Water torture. Doppler radar in the mid 70’s resulted in complaints from the station’s neighbors on north a Street, who didn’t appreciate the Doppler’s loud ‘ping’ heard throughout the neighborhood every few seconds. the unit was modified to remove the weather department’s version of Chinese Water torture. Leep was dead-serious about his weathercasts and didn’t tolerate the jokey attitude found in other tV markets. He took umbrage when any of the crew referred to his segment as the weather “show.” “it’s a program, not a show” he would admonish. Looking back i realize he was right. Leep’s weather information was vital to the local economy’s agriculture business and tourism. Leep trained dozens of television meteorologists who went on to long careers at WtVt and other markets. One of them, Howard Shapiro, was the fellow who not only logged 35 years at the station but correctly predict SnOW in tampa the day before it happened on January 19, 1977. Leep even saved my life once! i was a student pilot and nervous about the weather patterns forming as i planned a return trip to tampa from gainesville. i found a phone booth at the gainesville airport (no cell phones or gPS units then) and called roy for advice. roy checked his radar and told me to stick to the coast, which i did, avoiding some storms in the north tampa area that would have spelled trouble for me and my tiny Cessna 150. A REALLY BIG FISH Long before he joined the on-air staff at Big 13, ‘Salty Sol’ Fleischman was a local favorite on WDae radio and a columnist for the Tampa Daily Times. there wasn’t any nook or cranny of tampa Bay’s fishing spots that the veteran sportscaster didn’t know intimately. gregarious, bigger-

Andy Hardy and Salty Sol

than-life, and a walking joke machine, Sol was perfect for the new medium of tV. along with his persona Sol brought his long-running ‘Salty Sol’s’ Best Bet, a forecast of the best spots for local fisherman, to Bay area tV screens. Sports anchors have always been a little over the top but none of them came close to Sol’s presentation. Channel 13’s directors had such trouble keeping up with his high-energy prattle that a buzzer was installed in the control room activated by a foot switch under Sol’s desk. When Sol hit the buzzer it would cue the director to roll the film. One of Sol’s favorite segments was called “Where am i?” Viewers had to deduce where Sol’s film clip that day was taken and mail in their guess for a chance to win a zebco rod and reel. Sol had an eye for talent and hired a young man named andy Hardy in 1963. Hardy, who became sports director upon Fleischman’s retirement in 1974, had a quick wit and encyclopedic mind for sports. teamed with his mentor Fleischman they were an unbeatable and combustible on-air duo. Hardy was also a crew favorite with his impish humor and on-air pranks. SALUDE AND HAPPY DAYS! When WtVt started operations in 1955 there was a very short window to create a home base including studios and offices. the original Channel 13 facility was a converted restaurant on what was then Memorial Highway, less that a mile east of Dale Mabry. Because the station’s layout evolved and expanded around the original restaurant the interior was somewhat chaotic. you couldn’t get from one end of the station to the other without walking either through or past other departments such as news, weather, engineering, master control, the film room, art department, and traffic. i loved it because you encountered people from other areas and most of them were lively personalities that viewers never saw but were responsible for keeping the station running smoothly. i realized that WtVt wasn’t just a tV studio but five or six businesses supporting the programming of a channel. On a given day WtVt was a news factory, a weather bureau, a sports venue, a kids’ and public service show producer and a production facility. Local commercials produced at the station made stars of advertisers such as Manuel Beiro, owner of the popular Valencia gardens restaurant just west of downtown tampa. His running sponsorship at WtVt eventually produced over 1,000 commercials co-hosted by the station’s veteran announcer Paul reynolds, and later by sports director andy Hardy. you may remember Beiro’s famous expression “Salude and Happy Days.” i use it as my toast for celebrations to this day. Ford dealer Chick Smith caught viewer’s attention with his trademark slogan shouted at ear-splitting volume, “Chick Smith Ford in tHe Heart of Spark-ling Down-town Clearwater!!!” ALL GOOD THINGS Our daily “PULSe” newscasts, the weekly sessions of commercials for Publix and Belk Lindsey, production of regular public service programming and Coach McKay’s Bucs program kept the production crew hopping. the mobile unit was busier than ever covering regional football, Dodgers pre-season games in Vero Beach, naSa space launches at Cape Canaveral, two programs videotaped at Cypress gardens, “Day of Discovery,” a religious show of spiritual music, in addition to the country-themed “george Jones and tammy Wynette Show,” and the many parades and local events of tampa Bay. My time on the production crew of WtVt lasted for five intense, incredible years. in those five years i got ten years of broadcast experience and made lifelong friends…but it was time to go. So why did i leave the institution i loved so much? Because no one else wanted to! i wanted to move up into directing and producing and it became clear that it could take a decade or more due to the low turnover in the directors’ booth. i bid farewell to my colleagues and traveled to Los angeles for a number of tV jobs before spending 25 years with Sony Pictures television. i never forgot my friends and time at Big 13 and in 2001 created a web site ( to document the work and people of WtVt. the “Big 13” site is now 10 years old and filled with stories of the station’s first 39 years as a CBS affiliate. WtVt, Big 13, became FOX 13 in 1994 and continues to lead in quality news, sports, and weather for the viewers of tampa Bay. and thanks to the internet, i can be in Los angeles and watch WtVt! 16

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From 1955 to 1994, WTVT was Tampa Bay's CBS Television Affiliate. Serving the community with talented personalities, a top-notch production team, and Florida's most professional news, sports, and weather, Channel 13 is one of most distinguished television stations in the country with a wonderful history. This site covers WTVT's 39 years of CBS affiliation, before " Big 13" became " Fox 13." See behind-the-scenes & historical photos and read moreabout those who worked there. Created & Managed by Mike Clark, WTVT Employee 1972-1977

Visit for the link!


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an odd-looking fellow dressed as an undertaker enters a stone-walled Borrowing from a variety of sources (most notably, the legendary room, fumbling with the sticking, creaky wooden door. Finally closing Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine), Bennick created a new charit with a slam, he turns to the tV viewer smiling, and says with a gut- acter that looked more like the formal appearance of a traditional tural laugh and weirdly deep voice, "Welcome fright fans, to the tene- undertaker, and added a facial scar. He also affected a "reverse-falsetto" ment castle of Dr. Paul Bearer!" He takes a seat by the fireplace and, to his voice to sound unnaturally deep and raspy. thus was born "Dr. after entertaining viewers with a small torrent of pun-filled gags, hand- Paul Bearer". it was an immediate hit. made props and a little gallows humor, announces the title of today's Bennick continued to play the Dr. Paul Bearer character in n. "horrible old movie." Carolina for the next six-and-a-half years. He then decided to move to if this scene sounds familiar, you were probably watching WtOg Florida. His character, costume and props went with him. He got a job Channel 44's "Creature Feature", a Saturday afternoon staple of tampa at radio station WgtO in Cypress gardens, which was owned by Bay area television for over twenty years, from about 1971 to 1995. its WtOg Channel 44 in St. Petersburg. host, Dr. Paul Bearer, was played by the late, great ernest r. "Dick" after about a year at the radio station, Bennick got a call from a Bennick, a radio executive and former announcer hailing from friend suggesting that the current management shake-up at WtOg Winston-Salem, n. Carolina. Dr. Paul Bearer is Bennick's creation and might be a good time to show them some of his videos from the n. over the space of two decades, endeared himself to thousands of fans of Carolina show. the Channel 44 programmers liked what they saw and cheesy old horror a deal was made. movies using the there would initially aforementioned simbe two shows, one in ple, but clever, handthe afternoon and made props and dark one at 11:30pm. the humor. evening show would Dick Bennick be called "Fright began his career as a theater". the afterdisk-jockey at a radio noon show --for a station in Charlotte, while a double-feanorth Carolina in ture -- would be called 1949 before moving "Creature Feature". to Winston-Salem in "Fright theater" the '50s, where he would continue until introduced rock and 1977 when its time roll to an eager audislot was replaced with ence, earning a solid British comedies. reputation as a top "Creature Feature" DJ. During his eightwould continue until Dr. Paul Bearer in his coffin and-a-half years there 1995. the impact on he also hosted record hops and teenage dance clubs. there are a num- audiences, particularly baby-boomers, was enormous. ber of vintage newspaper ads in existence showing Bennick as an and timing is everything with baby-boomers. the late '50s through announcer at local clubs and music events. the early '80s were a sort of golden age for this sort of thing. Local eventually, Bennick talked his way into hosting a local televised ver- television stations would get packages of movies for syndication and sion of "american Bandstand", a huge hit on national airwaves at the it was only natural to create a regular time slot intended strictly for time. His success at all these ventures opened avenues for a little exper- old horror and sci-fi films. in this wonderful bygone era, a lot of telimentation. By the mid-'60s, a new idea began to gel. evision was of "local origination" and the country had a horror host He had always been a fan of horror movies, magic and theater. the for a Creature Feature-like program in virtually every major market. local tV station had a Saturday night Creature Feature program, but it is worth noting that "Fright theater" and "Creature Feature" no definable host, as such. Bennick pitched the idea of a regular host were not the first of their kind in the tampa Bay area. as i mencharacter he himself would play. the management suggested the name tioned previously, we had our own "Shock theater" in the '60s and "Count Shockula" to host their show called "Shock theater" (not to be early '70s, hosted by Shock armstrong (the "aaaaaaall-american confused with tampa's version, which was a different program with the ghoul!") played by WtVt news anchor Paul reynolds in a same name). Bennick made himself up to resemble, basically, a living Frankenstein mask and football jersey(!) that came on late Friday skeleton in a tuxedo, complete with gloves, tie and tails. after a few nights. We also had "terminus" Saturday afternoons around that weeks, however, it was apparent the character was not clicking with same era, with a voice-over announcer who was never seen. By the mid-'70s, these were gone. audiences and a new plan was set into motion. OCtOBer



in retrospect, it's easy to see why the Dr. Paul Bearer character was so come to a dreadful close. popular. He was personable, took his role seriously and never broke charin 1996, WtOg was purchased by Paramount Stations group and acter, but had a wild sense of humor. His glass eye (necessary after a car soon changed it's on-air branding to UPn 44. no attempt was made to accident) gave him an otherworldly look. His props were low-budget ele- save or salvage any of WtOg's Bennick-hosted Creature Features found gance: the cheesy, one-room "tenement castle" set, his pet spider in storage. except for a few tapes of "bumper spots" Bennick himself "Spenjiman Bock", and the wonderful pop culture artifacts he'd modify hoarded away, the only surviving complete episodes are the ones taped by for display. a serving of cereal like ghost toasties or Scream of Wheat fans of the show, all on VHS, and are still actively traded to this day. at might be topped with ghoulwhip. the program itself was based in "St. this time, only roughly 50 are known to exist. Creaturesburg". Occasionally, he'd go in 2004, promoter Jason up to the "music room" and, sitting at thomas and actor russell Warner, the piano, mime a performance of some both doing work at the Universal macabre ditty like tom Lehrer's theme Park, attempted to create a "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park". He new version of "Creature Feature" drove his own hearse to all public with a new host, "Professor Paul appearances (with his trademark "i'll Be Bearer ii" purporting to be the Lurking For you!" emblazoned above nephew of the original Dr. Paul the rear bumper). it was a grand time. Bearer. Props originally Bennick's By the late '80s, however, the penetrawere borrowed from a local collection of cable television into virtually all tor (including the chair, fireplace markets began to change the playing and Spenjiman Bock) to promote field of local television. Horror-hosted an air of authenticity to the proshows around the country were starting gram. UPn 44 aired these newlyto dry up as now there were dozens or hosted segments in October of hundreds of channels competing for that year, and in the view of this viewers' attention. writer, did an outstanding job of another recently-developed technical preserving and updating the coninnovation was also changing viewers' cept. Unfortunately, business is tV habits: the VCr. no longer bound business, and the segments, while by limited reruns and inconvenient well done, took up time that could scheduling, viewers could tape (or rent, be sold to advertisers. the new or buy) all the horror, sci-fi and fantasy Creature Feature was discontinfilms they wanted and watch them ued. whenever. this had a negative impact recently, Winter Haven busion much local originated programming nessman richard Koon revived whose advertisers tracked viewers at parthe original character, now called Dick Bennick in real life. ticular times. Dr. Paul Bearer ii, and built an Despite that, Dr. Paul Bearer enjoyed a robust cult following who were elaborate set in his own garage. He's created gag props like Bennick's, now inclined to tape whole programs hosted by him. this would prove assembled a near-identical costume, owns a hearse, and hopes to conprofoundly important to collectors later. But, i'm getting ahead of myself. vince any local tV station to bring back the show. For now, he's happy By the early '90s, Dr. Paul Bearer had become the longest-running tV to get some exposure on youtube. (Coincidentally, Dick Bennick's home horror host of all time. His personal appearances were extremely popular was also in Winter Haven.) and he'd become somewhat of a national star (including an appearance Obviously, Dick Bennick's Dr. Paul Bearer touched more lives than he on tV's "Hee Haw", believe it or not). He'd been featured in magazines, could ever know. that so many remember him fondly and want to re-live including coincidentally, Famous Monsters of Filmland, the magazine the thrill of his introducing "horrible old movies" is testament to his legafrom which he'd drawn so much inspiration for his character. So cy. Despite the many aspirants to his throne, he was one-of-a-kind, unique endeared to the tampa Bay region he had become that then tampa and original. mayor Sandy Freedman declared October 30th "Dr. Paul Bearer Day". it i can't help but feel that he's still out there somewhere watching horriseemed he would last forever. the grim reaper, unfortunately, had other ble old movies. and from that parallel netherworld, he'll look up occaplans. sionally to say, "i'll be lurkingggg for youuuuuuu!" February 18, 1995, Dick Bennick died after open-heart surgery at the For more information about Dr. Paul Bearer, age of 66. Dedicated fans far and wide mourned the loss of one of tV's visit most enduring personalities and the world of "Creature Feature" had 20

Cigar City Magazine


Cigar City Magazine

Perhaps the old drunk man who was being held up by the bar saw speakeasy; it was the most popular in town–el Dorado, which was something? Perhaps between sips he noticed the soon-to-be-victim known for the best liquor, the best music, the best table games, the enter the café and sidle up to one of its illegal gambling table games. best dope, and the best women. no one wanted to be blamed for el Perhaps the young male cigar roller knew what happened? Perhaps Dorado being shut down. after he slid his wedding ring from his tobacco stained finger and More importantly, however, that this was also the time period in smiled at the pretty lady across the room, he witnessed the argument ybor City when numerous gang factions violently fought over control that took place between the soon-to-be-victim and another man. of the city’s underworld. it was almost as common to hear a gunshot Perhaps the police officer who was in the café moments before the at night as it was to hear dominoes clickety-clacking in the cafés in gunshot was heard saw something? Perhaps after he helped the booze the morning. no matter how many people were wounded or murdered, smugglers carry that night’s supply into the café and collected his few people were ever convicted of a crime. to testify against a shooter payoff, he got a meant testifying good look at the against a member face of the man of a blood-thirsty whom the soongang. even if to-be-victim pursomeone saw their sued out of the best friend murroom. dered, it was in Or perhaps one their best interest of the soon-to-beto keep their victims numerous mouth shut unless acquaintances they wanted to were privy to that join their friend in night’s horrific the after-life soon event. Maybe the after. brunette wearing When someone the risqué abovewas shot, there the-knee-skirt was a certain prowith whom his tocol that was wife regularly had followed. First, the coffee saw what body was immedihappened. Maybe ately dragged out the devil crab venof the establishdor with yellow ment and left in teeth and sun the street. cracked eyes who everyone inside had been selling the establishment El Dorado Café, Eighth Avenue and 14th Street in Ybor City him lunch for was then told in half a decade had no uncertain some information. Maybe the street car conductor puffing on the terms that they had not seen or heard a thing. they were even cigar who’d chauffeured him around town since he was a boy could instructed to deny seeing the victim at the establishment at all on the fill someone in on that evening’s events. Maybe one of them saw night of the shooting. Police were not called for one hour, giving the whose finger pressed on the trigger of the gun. establishment time to clear all the illegal activities from the establishDespite all the potential witnesses, no one would step up and say ment in case the police had to enter. With no evidence or witnesses, what happened. everyone swore that they had not seen a thing. and the crime could not be solved. the establishment remained open there was nothing shocking about the lack of witnesses. this was and no innocent bystanders had to be dealt with down the line for ratting to the police. ybor City was a well-oiled machine when it how ybor City operated back then. america was in the midst of Prohibition. a café would serve came to covering up gang crimes. However, on august 14, 1928, a monkey wrench was thrown into coffee and food by day, and alcohol, games of chance, women, and drugs by night. Many police were on the take and so allowed the the machine. the victim, the devilishly handsome and always well-dressed 35illegal establishments to operate as long as they received their weekly payments. But, no amount of money could justify an officer ignoring a year-old Florentino Martinez, somehow made his way to his feet and, murder. it would be bad Pr if word got out that an officer did not while holding his hand over his wound to stop the bleeding, was able investigate a shooting and would tip off honorable officials to whom to muster the strength to stumble half a block to a medical facility, el Bien Publico Clinic. the officer truly pledges his allegiance. if someone was shot inside a “café,” the police would have had to Read what happenes when Florentino reaches the El Bien Publico Clinic. enter it and investigate–and when they saw the booze, illegal gambling, Only online at and more, they would have had to shut the place down. if the patrons wanted their favorite establishments to remain open, it was in their best interests to keep their mouths shut. the ybor City café where the man was shot on august 14, 1928 was not just any OCtOBer



there are few voices in tampa Bay more recognizable than tedd Webb. Currently heard on 970 WFLa’s morning show alongside Jack Harris, Webb has been a staple of tampa Bay radio since 1963, including stints at WaLt, WFSO, WLCy, WDae, WnSi, WPLP, and the legendary “Q Morning zoo” of the early 1980s. radio commentary is just one of the gifts tedd Webb has given to tampa Bay over the years. He has also been one of the area’s most colorful personalities, providing the community with thousands upon thousands of laughs throughout his career. Cigar City Magazine recently sat down with tedd to discuss everything from music to farts. CCM: A lot of people do not know this, but you are also a very talented musician. Tell CCM readers a bit about your musical career. TW: Well, i am currently performing with Joe Lala, Brenda ayala and tony garcia and we have a great time. We call our band WtF–the West tampa Four. to me it is just an awesome time. We play small venues and private parties. and we perform at charity events, such as benefits for cystic fibrosis and pediatric cancer. it is not about the money for us. We just do it because we have a good time and we play everything, from county to classic rock to r&B. Prior to WtF, i performed with a band called the Famunda all Stars and it was the same type of band. We were the house band at rigatoni italian restaurant on Kennedy Boulevard for three years and we performed annually at the Koncert 4 Kidz event, which benefitted pediatric cancer. CCM: Speaking of music, there is a certain noise associated with a musical fruit for which you are known. Care to explain? TW: Sure. i once owned the company that makes the Fart Bag, which is a handheld whoopee cushion, that when squeezed can make a variety of fart noises. and it is small enough that you can use it without anyone ever seeing it. the Fart Bag is a funny thing. i discovered it when i was hired 26

Cigar City Magazine

to do photography at a Wade Boggs Celebrity Softball tournament and Leslie nielsen sat next to me in the dugout, leaned over and just ripped one. He then showed me it was a Fart Bag. We became friends and he turned me on to the company that invented the Fart Bag. the next thing i know i am buying 100 at a time and then one day the owners of the company offered to sell me the entire operation and i took them up on the offer. along with a few friends, i ran it for a few years and then sold it. the Fart Bag is a lot of fun. if you love observing people there is no better way than with the Fart Bag. it is the universal language. i like to use it in elevators or in offices and bring a camera man with me with a camera hidden in a gym bag to get the reaction on tape. i actually used one in court. i had a really tough female attorney and when she stood up i ripped one. She looked at me and said if i do that again i can look for a new counsel, so when she stood up again i of course ripped one again. CCM: Not only are you a fan of farts, you are also a fan of the area from where they come. Well, a fan of the female area. You even published a book on the topic. TW: the book is called Butt of Course. guys can say they are a boob guy or whatever, but when a woman walks by, we all stare at their asses so i thought a book on women’s asses would be great. i did all the photography myself, which was a tough job. i am now shooting my second book and i call it The Window. this book will have more full nudity in it. CCM: What would you say is your greatest comedic feat? TW: Oh, easily the april Fools’ prank of 1976. it got out of hand. i was with WLCy at the time and i pretended to call into the radio and ask for them to play “DOa” by Bloodrock. thirty minutes go by and i call again. i keep doing that but the station never plays the song. Finally, they are doing weather and i pretend to storm in and scream that i brought the tape and they can play it. they refuse and i pretend to stab someone in the station. next thing i know we have all types of police on the property who thought it was real. it was a hoot.scream that i brought the tape and they can play it. they refuse and i pretend to stab someone in the station. next thing i know we have all types of police on the property who thought it was real. it was a hoot.

Crazy Soup

Sopa Loca Ingredients

1 flank steak (1 to 1 1/2 lbs.) cut in 1 inch squares 3 quarts water 1 large onion, chopped 1 medium-size green pepper, cut in strips 6 gloves garlic, chopped 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut in chunks 1 bay leaf

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes 4 chunks frozen yucca 2 medium-size white potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks 1 small butternut squash, cut in 2-inch chunks Salt and pepper to taste 2 medium-ripe plantains, peeled and cut in 2-inch rounds 2 ears corn, cut in 2-inch rounds

Preparation Boil flank steak in water, removing foam. Lower heat and add onion, green pepper, garlic, tomatoes, and bay leaf. Cover and boil slowly until meat is tender (approximately 1 1/2 hours). Strain; discard vegetables and herbs. Set meat aside. Add sweet potatoes, yucca, white potatoes, squash, salt, and pepper to broth and cook over medium heat. When these vegetables are almost tender, add plantains, corn, and flank steak; cook until corn and plantains are done. Serve hot. Serves 4

Share the Columbia Seasoning secret in your own kitchen. Use on meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables. For more information or to purchase our seasoning visit us at


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Dear Mama, i’ve learned how to cook Spanish food and it’s delicious but my husband gets really gassy after he eats it. Do you have a cure for that? -Can’t Handle The Gas Dear Can’t Handle The Gas, i could careless about what comes out of your husbands ass but if it was my husband, i’d kick his nasty ass to the curb. -Mama Dear Mama, in the last issue of Cigar City Magazine, i asked you an important question and you just tried to make a monkey out of me! -I’m No Monkey Dear I’m No Monkey, Believe me, i don't want to make a monkey out of you. Why should i take all the credit? -Mama

Dear Mama, i’m terrified about going to the dentist. i hear they can put you under now while working on your teeth. Do you know anything about this procedure? -Afraid Of The Dentist Dear Afraid Of The Dentist, Do you see well? Have you seen my teeth! Keep talking, someday you'll say something intelligent. -Mama

Dear Mama, i want to move out of my parents house but they think i’m to young. i want to move out of West tampa to new tampa. Do i really owe my parents a reason why i want to move out? -I Want To Move Out Dear I Want To Move Out, All that you are you owe to your parents. Why don't you send them a penny and square the account? -Mama

Send your questions to Mama at