Sivads of March

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Sivads of March


March 25-28

A four-day tribute through art, film, music and words to the late Watson Davis, the innovative Malco ad man and ballyhoo specialist known for his elaborate movie promotions and who, in his guise as the ‘horror host’ known as Sivad (on the “Fantastic Features” program from 1962 to 1972 on WHBQ-TV Channel 13), was one of the most influential and beloved Memphis pop-culture heroes of the era, with a popularity that crossed generational and racial lines.

NOTE: Davis, 92, passed away on March 23, 2005 so the “Sivads of March” is timed to be a respectful memorial tribute, marking the five year anniversary of his death, as well as a celebration in the fun spirit of Davis’ work. We hope to have both mayors declare one day the week of Marh 25th as “Watson Davis/Sivad Day.”


Thursday, March 25:

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art:


Meet and Greet.

Get a copy of the SIVADS OF MARCH souvenir program book, a beautifully designed 80 page (!) Memphis cinema and television history volume edited by Mike McCarthy and John Beifuss with layout by Adam Woodard. The book as well as silk screen posters and cool t-shirts will be available throughout the four day event.

6 – 7:30 pm

Monster Martini Meet & Greet.

Get your "Monster Martini" (an eyeball floating in a delicious martini!) at the cash bar in the Brushmark Restaurant.

For many, this event will be a WHBQ-TV reunion party with many special guests joining in from the Malco Theatre. All to celebrate the memory of W. Watson Davis. Awards will be handed out by the Sivad Squad and winners escorted by the lovely Memphis Belles playing The Brides of Sivad!

7:30 pm

Sivad Awards presented to...

Malco Theatres will present the Watson Davis family with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

WHBQ-TV will present station photographer Jim Shackelford with a Special Photography Award.

The Sivad Squad will present Mike Curtis a special Sivad in the horror host category. Mike was Count Basil on Jackson, Tennessee's Channel 6 in the seventies.

Several videos on Watson and Sivad will be shown. A special interview segment with Dick Lightman, Doyle Childress, Elton Holland and others will be featured.

We are very excited to announce that Watson's Sivad costume, his make-up kit, his custom-made musical instruments, and lost films will also be on exhibit at the Brooks Museum of Art. (on loan from the Beverly Ideker collection.)

8 pm

Fantastic Feature:



Friday, March 26:

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art:


3 pm

Fantastic Feature:


and then over across town...

Adam Shaw Gallery,
2547 Broad Avenue:
"Love & Curses" Art Show

7 pm FREE

Original works created by area painters, illustrators and photographers in homage to Davis and his vampiric alter ego.


Saturday, March 27:

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art:


12 pm

Fantastic Feature:


2 pm

L'IL FILM FEST: "Beware the Sivads of March" (a shorts film festival with a Sivad theme!)

10 pm

1588 Madison Avenue


Reigning Sound with opening band The Nehilistics.

The Brides of Sivad are slated to dance onstage.

Count Basil will present Greg Cartwright of the Reigning Sound with a Sivad Award "Best Use of Sivad In A Rock n' Roll Category". The Reigning Sound's latest record is called "Love & Curses" (Sivads motto).

For you late owls, rumors are beginning to surface about a possible after-party at the Hi-Tone after 1 pm where I hear that the Tennessee Tearjerkers are going to play. Stay tuned...


Sunday, March 28:

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art:


1 pm

"Friends of Sivad" Panel. You are invited to listen in and ask questions as old friends and colleagues share stories about Sivad and the glory days of WHBQ-TV and Malco Cinema.

2 pm

Our Fantastic (double) Feature...


3:30 pm


(both movies are kid-friendly!)

... and a good evening to you all!

  Sivads of March

An 80 page souvenir program book – featuring introductory comments from Sara Karloff, daughter of Boris Karloff, who commends Davis for helping to keep her father’s films alive -- will function as a history of Davis and his career as well as a guide to the events. “Sivads of March” T-shirts and commemorative posters will be keepsakes for fans and serve as longtime reminders of Davis for those who buy them, just as they do such events as Memphis in May.

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collection of Mike Curtis

Sivads of March

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So long, Sivad

His old ghoul charm pierced hearts 1962-72; from hospice bed he signed photos for grown fans

by John Beifuss

Is it extreme to claim that the late Watson Davis, who portrayed Sivad, the vampiric host of WHBQ-TV's "Fantastic Features" in the 1960s and early '70s, belongs with Sam Phillips, Dewey Phillips, Rufus Thomas, Sputnik Monroe, B.B. King, Larry Finch and Elvis in any pantheon of influential Memphis entertainers and idols?

Unlike Memphis's most famous entertainer, the one also known by a single name, Sivad didn't rock the world. But he rocked my world, and the world of thousands of other kids from every neighborhood in the Mid-South -- black or white, rich or poor -- who spent part of each weekday anticipating the weekend return of Sivad on Channel 13's horror movie showcase, "Fantastic Features."

Davis, a former advertising director for Malco who was much honored by his peers for his clever movie promotions, died Wednesday of cancer in Stuttgart, Ark., where he had lived for many years. He was 92.

He was buried Saturday in Shady Grove Cemetery in Clarendon, Ark.

Sivads of March

"To serve someone I've known as a TV personality for all those years was very meaningful," said Bob Neal, 59, of Bob Neal & Sons Funeral Home in Clarendon. He said when he was a kid in Helena, Ark., "We could hardly wait to ... turn on the TV to watch Sivad." Davis's stage name was elegantly simple. Just as Dracula tried to conceal his identity in 1943's "Son of Dracula" by introducing himself as "Count Alucard," "Sivad" was "Davis" spelled backward.

"Some friends and I were talking after we heard about his death, and we can't think of anybody else that was on TV in this area that would have affected as many people as Sivad," said Memphis writer Ron Hall, 54, who discussed the horror host's novelty single "Sivad Buries Rock and Roll" in his book, "Playing for a Piece of the Door: A History of Garage & Frat Bands in Memphis, 1960-1975."

Said Hall: "I know there are a lot of personalities like (former kids' show host) Happy Hal and (sportscaster) Jack Eaton that people have loved over the years, but Sivad would have to be No. 1 -- he'd have to be."

Sivads of March

Frayser-reared musican Greg Cartwright of the Oblivians and the Reigning Sound said that for years he has kept an autographed 8-by-10 photo of Sivad in his guitar case, tucked beneath his Gretsch guitar.

"It's a nice reminder of home, and a nice reminder of Memphis culture," said Cartwright, who now lives in Asheville, N.C. "And it's a nice laugh each time I take the guitar out or put it back in."

On "Fantastic Features," Sivad's commercial-break antics were intentionally corny. But each program began with an eerie black-and-white introduction filmed in an uncharacteristically foggy Overton Park in which Sivad -- formally dressed in his trademark Lon Chaney-in-"London After Midnight" ensemble of top hat, cape, medallion, long hair and loose fangs -- rode into view driving a horse-drawn hearse.

Crouching and smiling ghoulishly, Sivad then pulled a coffin from the back of the carriage and lifted the lid. Smoke poured from the casket, followed by a clip from that night's feature.

Thanks in part to spooky theme music lifted from the soundtrack of the 1950 science-fiction classic "Destination Moon," this introduction was scarier for most children than the movies that followed, an oft-repeated rogues' gallery that included such B-pictures as "Teenage Caveman" and "The Astounding She-Monster" as well as (in the early days) such bonafide classics as "The Wolf Man" and "The Thing."

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