PITTSBURGH (AP) — Bill Cardille, a Pittsburgh TV personality nicknamed “Chilly Billy” who hosted late-night “Chiller Theater” as well as “Studio Wrestling,” has died. He was 87.
Lori Cardille, his actress daughter, announced on Facebook that Cardille died early Thursday in his home in McCandless Township, just north of the city. She had announced last month that he was diagnosed with cancer.
Cardille began his television career at WICU in Erie but moved in 1962 to Pittsburgh. There, he worked for WIIC, which is now WPXI, the city’s NBC affiliate.
He co-created and hosted “Chiller Theater,” which featured campy horror flicks on Saturday nights from September 1963 until January 1984. The show was so popular in Pittsburgh that WPXI aired it instead of “Saturday Night Live” during that program’s first four seasons. After that, NBC persuaded the station to air SNL, so a shorter version of “Chiller Theater” aired afterward at 1 a.m.
Cardille hosted the “Studio Wrestling” show, which aired for most of its run at 6 p.m. Saturdays to advertise live professional wrestling shows promoted in Pittsburgh by Joseph “Toots” Mondt. The promotion ran monthly shows at the former Civic Arena. The TV show went off the air in 1972.
Cardille’s first television job in Erie included hosting a Saturday morning spelling bee and beer commercials during Cleveland Indians games.
“I don’t drink,” Cardille told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a recent interview, so Cardille only pretended to drink the beer during the live commercials “and then I’d pour mine down the sewer. They were the happiest rats in Erie.”
Cardille was offered a management job in Erie, but returned to Pittsburgh in September 1962, preferring to work as a TV director and announcer.
After his work with WIIC and WPXI, Cardille made public appearances and spent 19 years at WJAS-AM as a radio host until August 2014.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.