William Robert Cardille, better known as Chilly Billy, host of “Chiller Theatre,” spent years in Pennsylvania broadcasting. He began his career in Erie, PA, in 1952, and his was the first voice broadcast on 1 September, 1957 on WIIC Channel 11 (Now known as WPXI). He also lent his talents to “Studio Wrestling,” “Dance Party,” and “The Annual Jerry Lewis MS Telethon” as well as other shows.
For his iconic role with Saturday evening’s “Chiller Theatre,” Chilly Billy and his staff of costumed ghouls performed skits during commercial breaks and between the two featured films. Characters portrayed by Cardille included Captain Bad, Maurice the Matchmaker, and Mr. Magnificent. In addition to skits, he told corny jokes to an appreciative animated skull, read horror-scopes, shared trivia, and entertained guest stars including Vincent Price. He and WIIC publicist Robert Willis wrote the skits, and Henry Mancini and Al Caiola performed the show’s theme song, “Experiment in Terror.” The show ended 1 January, 1984, but the official website, http://www.chillertheatermemories.com/index.html, remains online. Bill Cardille continued his broadcasting career until his August, 2014 retirement.
Cardille played a reporter (himself) in George Romero’s 1968 landmark horror classic “Night of the Living Dead” and his daughter starred in the sequel “Day of the Dead.”
Cardille was awarded “The Heart Award” in 1976 for his volunteerism and named AFTRA’s Television Personality of the Year and inducted into the AFTRA’s Hall of Fame in 1979. The Pennsylvania Broadcasters Hall of Fame inducted him in 1997. Pittsburgh City Council declared 28 September, 2010 “Bill Cardille Day.”
He fathered three children, including his actress daughter, Lori, who recently posted the following plea to social media:
“My dear father, Chilly Billy, Bill Cardille, received a cancer diagnosis that will be quite challenging to say the least. His spirits are tremendous which is not a surprise. I thought it would be nice for dad to know how you enjoyed him during your childhood years or any years for that matter. I want him to feel the love that he so freely gave during his lifetime. Even just a card. You can send it to:
Chilly Billy, c/o Century Communications 313 East Carson Street , Pgh. Pa, 15219
Thank you friends. It will mean so much to dad. Please send this along to anyone you know that loved my dad. With a grateful heart, Lori Cardille.”