INDIANAPOLIS– It’s the laugh that lives on in the collective memory of a generation of Hoosiers. If you’re of a certain age, he needs no explanation. But, if you’re unfamiliar, just know that Sammy Terry was genuinely frightening sometimes. The campy ghoul hosted “Shock Theatre,” the series of scary old movies that aired on WTTV Channel 4 for 30 years starting in the 1960s.
Sammy Terry, you know like “cemetery,” was the creation of one of Channel 4’s first employees. Bob Carter did a bit of everything at the station, but he became famous when he invented his alter-ego in just two weeks to meet a sponsor’s deadline.
“I knew he was going to last for a while when the 13-week sponsor contract ran out and other people picked up the contract and continued the show, and it’s one of the longest 13-week contracts in television history,” said Carter in 2000, when WTTV celebrated its 50 anniversary.
Sammy became arguably the most popular personality on Channel 4. His show featured a cast of low-tech characters like “George” the rubber spider who dangled from a fishing line just off camera. Sammy grew to become a Hoosier legend.
“I’m very thankful for that,” said Carter in 2000. “That people remember that, well, it’s a wonderful feeling. There’s a lot of love.”
Bob Carter’s son Mark continues the legacy of Sammy Terry to this day with a dungeon filled with some of the show’s old props he saved from being thrown away. He performs in the same makeup on a Facebook Live show during the Halloween season for both the old and a new generation of fans.
“It’s that childlike fear, but not scary. Sammy Terry was horror without being horrible,” said Mark.
Bob Carter, the original Sammy Terry, passed away a few years ago. His son says his dad couldn’t have been more different that the character who lives on now on the worldwide web all these years later.
“A soft, gentle man. Rarely would you find anyone that had a grievance with him. He sought peace with everyone. However when the moon comes up and the sun goes down…out comes the alter ego, Sammy,” said Mark.