Preface:

I'm a 54 year-old guy who spent his formative years in the Detroit area in the 60s. A quick calculation reveals that most of the events described herein are recollections from nearly 35 years ago. Despite the fact that I often can't remember what I had for dinner last night, my memory is still, um....uh...what's that term? --- razor sharp! Yeah, that's it. Because of this passage of time, some details may be incorrect or I may be a little off on a date here and there. If you know absolutely everything there is to know about Morgus and discover an error, please don't go crackers on me -- let me know. I'll correct the errata and give you credit for helping me complete the story!

1964 B.M. (before Morgus)

We begin our story sometime in 1964. Your humble scribe would have been 13 at the time, and in what we called 'Junior High School' before political-correctness came along and dictated that we use the term 'Middle School' to avoid hurting anybody's feelings by suggesting that they were too chronologically-challenged to be in "real" High School. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, The Beatles had 324 songs in the Top 10, and Captain Kirk had yet to plant his first buss on a pair of alien lips. ("Kiss? What is kiss? I find this a most unusual, yet pleasurable, experience. Shall we kiss again?") It was a time of great frustration for me. I couldn't even attract the attention of a Kleenex-enhanced 8th grader with braces, yet every week this guy would get alien babes with supermodel figures! But that's another story...

At some point I noticed the ads which began to appear in the Detroit newspapers picturing a peculiar, yet interesting looking, guy in a lab coat. Bedecked with goggles and a scarf, he was flying a biplane which trailed a banner reading "Morgus is coming." I had no idea what the heck that meant, but the appearance of this character was intriguing.

A New Kind of Weatherman...

A short time after that, TV promos featuring this same character appeared. The show that eventually aired turned out to be a daily 5-minute weather show at 5:55 pm, just before the local news on WJBK Channel 2. It was titled Morgus and the Weather, and featured Morgus, the fellow I'd seen flying the biplane, and his sidekick, Armsby. Armsby was a washing-machine shaped automaton whose prominent feature was flailing dryer-vent arms ala the Lost in Space Robot, which would appear 2 to 3 years later. Each night, Morgus would perform a 'scientific' experiment, which consumed most of the show's 5 minutes. Inevitably, the experiment would end with disastrous and humorous results. Finally, his "weather machine"- a refrigerator shaped console with blinking lights and a slot machine on the front - would spit out a forecast while the camera shook slightly to give the impression that the weather machine was actually doing something. Compared with today's high tech weather forecasts, with their animated maps and Super Doppler 2000 Radar and immaculately coiffed "Gosh, the bad weather is all my fault, yuk yuk" pseudo-meteorologists, this was pretty entertaining stuff. And probably about as accurate as all of this 21st century gimmickry.

The Next Step: Morgus Presents

Morgus the Magnificent was the creation of Sid Noel. He had come from New Orleans, where he had done a local version of Morgus and the Weather, as well as hosting late night horror movies a show called House of Shock. Sid came to Detroit to produce the Morgus and the Weather show for distribution to Storer Broadcasting stations in other parts of the country. It wasn't too long before it was decided to put Morgus to work in a show similar to The House of Shock . Soon, Morgus Presents hit the air at 11:30 pm on Friday nights on WJBK.

Morgus Presents was a 90-minute, locally-produced show featuring Sid Noel as Momus Alexander Morgus, a nutty professor, mad-scientist type. It aired on Friday nights at 11:30 pm. The show opening featured theremin-like (probably just a sine-wave generator) music as the camera panned the la-BOR-a-tree, (as he pronounced it) scanning past test tubes and beakers of colored water and dry ice to produce "steam" at the top of the liquids. Soon, Erik, the Talking Skull came into view and intoned "Welcome to Morgus Presents" followed by the requisite spooky laugh.

Initially, Armsby was the only assistant, but after awhile Morgus created 2 clones (really - the concept IS that old, you know!) which he called the Morgusaroids - 1 & 2. They were made up to look like Morgus in their lab coats, and never spoke. (probably to save money!) They were usually seen hulking around the lab, performing menial tasks, like sweeping the floor like soul-less zombies. (Is that redundant?) In retrospect, I guess it's possible that these weren't really intended to be clones, perhaps this was the Zombies from Mora Tau episode, and he just cooked up some zombies. The memory fails...

The centerpiece of the show was a Sci-Fi/Horror film which Morgus would introduce and discuss the "scientific principles" discussed therein, when applicable. He would often conduct his own experiments paralleling whatever was being done in the movie, and, naturally, his experiments would always backfire with humorous results. This is nearly 35 (gawd!) years ago, so my memory doesn't retain much detail about any particular experiments, except for one: in that episode, Morgus was being "robbed" by a couple of bad guys in his lab. During breaks in the movie, you would see what they were doing to him, and he would occasionally sneak away from them, lean in close to the camera and whisper to us in the TV audience to call the police. Of course, lots of us did, because pretty soon there was a crawl at the bottom of the screen advising us that this was a pre-recorded program and it was not a real robbery. I think the operative word would be "duh"...

I do remember a few of the movies, though: Wasp Woman, Meteor Monster, Cape Canaveral Monsters, etc. One problem with the show being on Channel 2 was that they didn't have a very extensive horror film library. The last 2 films I remember them showing with Morgus were (In the immortal words of Dave Barry - I'm not making this up!) Manfish and American Guerilla in the Philippines. This illustrates just how clueless were the people responsible for selecting the films. Manfish, the title of which conjours up an image of some type of monstrous human/fish creature, was the name of a FISHING BOAT. To make it sound even more like it was a horror movie, Lon Chaney Jr. was in it. But it wasn't scary, no monsters - just B-O-R-I-N-G! As for American Guerilla in the Philippines - hey buddy, it's GUERILLA, meaning fighter, not GORILLA, meaning monster! Sheesh - didn't they watch these things?

Anyway, I was depressed enough that they were showing these awful movies rather than scary ones, but one Friday night, I tuned in and there was no Morgus! In the newspaper over the weekend, I was delighted to read that morgus was moving over to Channel 7 from Channel 2, and was going to take over the reins of the syndicated package of Universal monster films distributed nationally as "SHOCK! Theater". (This was only a local wrinkle - other parts of the country had their own SHOCK! hosts, or none at all. It was only the films themselves that were distributed nationally.) However, this was a great development, because now we had Morgus in a new, more extensive laboratory with a whole batch of classic films to show.

I don't recall how long this lasted, but one Friday night I tuned in and Morgus was gone. This time it was for good. I imagine it was probably in the news, but I was just a kid, and didn't usually read the whole paper. As I recall,it was April of 1965. I found out that Sid Noel had left to return to New Orleans in pursuit of a syndication deal for Morgus Presents. This left me only to hope that eventually this would happen and we would see him again. That was the last time I saw Morgus Presents. I was devastated.

In the fall of '69, I went to Columbus, Ohio, to attend a technical school. Here, I found that one of my classmates was from New Orleans. I immediately pumped him for information about Morgus, and what I found out was this: Morgus had indeed returned and his show was once again aired down there. Not too long after that, the New Orleans Saints joined the National Football League and were the immediate darlings of the city. Unfortunately, they were also televised by the same station on which Morgus appeared. The story went that Morgus was basically ousted in a budget crunch created by the station locally producing Saints player and coaches shows. I can't vouch for the authenticity of that story, but it sounds reasonable.

As the years go by, I "mature", marry, hold jobs, have kids, etc. But I still have that desire to see Morgus one more time. I think about and wonder what has become of him, but really have no resources to find out. Then in about 1986 or '87, I was scanning through the cable channels and pause on MTV, which is showing a special presentation about Mardis Gras from New Orleans. Mark Goodman announces a break and says that when they return, Morgus was going to be on. I frantically scrounged up a tape and threw it in the vcr. After all those years, I finally get to see Morgus again, even if only for a couple of minutes being interviewed by a "VeeJay". But it was glorious. I tend to be an emotional guy, so here I am, a 35-36 year old man, standing there with tears in my eyes watching a stupid tv show character from my youth. My daughter came down and asked me what was wrong. It's hard to explain...

Next thing - it's 1995, and I finally get connected to the internet. First thing I do when I find out about newsgroups, and search engines and Deja News is start looking for and asking about Morgus. I found out that there is a current-day wrestler called Morgus the Manic. I found out that there was a character named Morgus in the Dr. Who tv series. I stumble across the home page of somebody named Robert Morgus. I eventually came across 2 or 3 people who knew a little about him, and through pestering them, I found out the name of the New Orleans tv station that he had most recently worked at.

I wrote a letter to Sid Noel in care of that station, and a month or so was delighted to receive a nice little note and an autographed picture. In his note, he expressed his surprise to hear from someone who remembered him from his Detroit days, and told me what he was up to at the time. The picture and the note are framed and reside permantly on my desk at work, where I am often ridiculed by my peers for my taste in television programs. no accounting for taste, (theirs!) I guess.

To be continued...

Click here to return the Morgus front page