PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The man best known for hosting the 1960’s show “Chiller Theater” has died. Family members tell KDKA Radio that Bill Cardille passed away last night in his sleep in his North Hills home from complications of cancer.
He is not only remembered, but revered by generations of Pittsburghers who grew up laughing at his zany antics, and basking in his kindness. His late night movie show on Channel 11, back when TV was only black and white, set the stage for copycats all over the country.
The Sharon native began his career as the host of Studio Wrestling before taking over as host of Chiller Theater in 1964, where he earned the title “Chilly Billy.”
He gained a measure of world-wide fame in the role of TV reporter in the 1968 film classic, “Night of he Living Dead.”
Another character and co-producer of that groundbreaking film is Russ Streiner, in the role of “Johnny,” the zombies’ first victim.
“There was no other direction to go than to try to engage Bill Cardille,” Streiner now says. “And I must say that Bill over the years, before the film was made, leading up to the film, participating in the film – he was just as charming and gracious as he appeared to be to everyone. Just a wonderful guy.”
Cardille also hosted studio wrestling. He was an icon of the early days of television.
“Bill was the consummate professional,” Streiner said. “He showed up on time, he knew his lines – some of them were adlibbed – and he was perfectly fine with that, and he made the whole chore of production really easy on us.”
Cardille also was a popular DJ on WJAS-AM, where he hosted the mid-day show for nearly 20 years. He signed off the air in August of 2014, where he, and former KDKA Radio DJ Jack Bogut had the opportunity to say thank you and goodbye to all their fans.
Family members say they are planning some sort of public ceremony for Cardille, but those details have not been released.
Bill Cardille was 87-years-old.