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Iowa History Daily: November 14 - Gravesend Manor

Iowa History Daily: On November 14, 1964, popular late-night horror film showcase “Gravesend Manor” returned to Iowa’s airwaves. Featuring Ed Weiss as “Malcolm the Butler” and Jim Varnum as “The Duke of Desmodas” the program proved popular with audiences looking for a late-night thrill.

Debuting during the late 1950s in the 11:00 p.m. timeslot, the show featured B-movie horror films and locally-produced skits. In addition to “Malcolm the Butler” and “The Duke of Desmodas,” “Claude the Great,” “Boris Kutyourheadoffsky,” and a pair of hands belonging to “Igor” helped round out the show’s cast.

Weiss, a native of Chicago, arrived in Des Moines after service in World War II to work as a commentator and producer for WOI-TV and radio. Heavily involved in the Drama and English programs at Iowa State for years, Weiss also worked as a puppeteer on the popular television program “The Magic Window,” hosted WOI-FM’s afternoon classical music program. Additionally, Weiss reviewed movies, art, and theater in the popular “Man About Arts” segment on WOI radio.

The show ran sporadically during parts of the 1950s and 1960s. A second iteration, known as “Son of Gravesend Manor” also appeared on Iowa’s airwaves during 1974. Despite a cult following, the show’s resurrection only lasted a short time before ultimately returning to the grave. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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