Today May 15, 1938 Jimmy Hollister was born in San Francisco, California where he grew up. His parents were Svea A. & James L. Hollister, who had six children. James Leroy "Jimmy" Hollister, Jr., trained in theater at Pasadena Playhouse, on a football scholarship, intending to become an actor. Vic Ives remembers Jimmy telling him: "He did a play with the former silent star Laura La Plante who told him when he was shot in the leg, "always bleed down stage." Great show Biz advice."
He graduated in 1960, going on to attend UCLA. During this time Jim landed his first radio job at KABC Los Angeles, working in the mail room and doing "voices" for a radio show, until the Union got wind of it and threw him out. Then he got a job as a page on the ABC-TV show "Queen for a Day." In 1962 Hollister moved back to San Francisco, landing his first broadcasting job at KMPX. It was in San Francisco radio in the late 60's he meet his long time friend Vic Ives.
In January 1970 Jim Hollister moved to Portland, after being hired by KEX's new Program Director, Vic Ives and was appointed Music Director, as well as KEX afternoon drive personality. On November 7, 1970 a special "Laugh Till Your Knob Falls Off" show Saturday at 10am had comedy bits from Jim Hollister, Bob Swanson, Hal Raymond & Russ Conrad. Jim & Vic collaborated, producing "The Hollister & Ives Sometimes Comedy Hour" 4 to 6pm on Sundays. The show featured skits they improvised: "Lazlo The Great" "Benny Burnside" "Aunt Penny" & "Retsilloh The Near Great" plus music. Seeking to promote KEX Radio to more listeners, an outgrowth of this entertainment program was expanded into television.
On September 16, 1972 "Sinister Cinema" originally scheduled for a 13 week run, premiered Saturday night at 11:15pm on KATU. The lighthearted/creepy presentation televised horror movies from the 1930's to the 1960's. Victor Ives was host, dressed as a Dracula-like character, accompanied by the disembodied, pasty-faced "Head" of Jimmy Hollister, who floated through scenes, voiceless, mouthing words and rebelling against authority. The intro announcer was Chuck "Chuckles" Gingold, KATU Program Director.
On the debut night, viewers witnessed episode one of the sinister serial "Flying Disc Man From Mars" followed by the sinister cinema 1st feature "Frankenstein" starring Boris Karloff and the 2nd feature "The Frozen Ghost" with Lon Chaney. Originally there was no title for the program. Vic was thinking about shaving off his beard for the show. Somebody from K2 said "No, don't do that. You look more sinister with a beard." And that's how Sinister Cinema became "Sinister Cinema."
On October 21, 1972 a new character was introduced to "Sinister Cinema" viewers. "Ravenscroft" the butler, which was also Jimmy Hollister, in an old overcoat with a long stringy wig, false eye, fangs, one hand and no vocal cord. Jimmy also played I-gor. On October 28, 1972 Barney Keep guested on "Sinister Cinema." Hollister & Ives, who never made all that much from the Sinister Cinema appearances, would book themselves into a half-dozen or more haunted houses at Halloween and appeared in costume. They would work in tandem, with one closing the act at one location while the other raced off to the next job. This brought a small financial bonanza into their lives, Ives said.
On January 9, 1973 it was reported "Sinister Cinema" now topped the ratings for its time period. The show became so popular, at one time 60 percent of the Portland television audience was watching. On January 13, 1973 Russ Conrad guested on "Sinister Cinema." Then on March 3, 1973 Vincent Price also made an appearance. Vincent had taped a Sinister Cinema segment while in Portland. On May 5, 1973 "Sinister Cinema" introduced its new dungeon set and Oregonian "Behind The Mike" columnist Francis Murphy guested. On July 22, 1973 it was announced the new record "The Corner of Hollister & Ives" had been issued on Portland's NWI record label which featured some of their best routines.
By August 1973 Jimmy Hollister was hosting his "Commute Club" program 3 to 7pm weekdays. On October 13, 1973 Barney Keep returned to "Sinister Cinema" as Dr. Diddle. On November 15, 1973 it was announced "The Hollister & Ives Sometimes Comedy Hour" was now syndicated by Nostalgia Broadcasting Corp. In January 1974 "Ron Tonkin Chevrolet" began sponsoring "Sinister Cinema." On Monday January 14, 1974 KEX began a new evening format of old time radio shows. The "Speed Gibson" serial was the first to be broadcast and was hosted by Jim Hollister at 6:45pm. On June 15, 1974 Hollister & Ives emceed KEX's coverage of the "Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade" from Memorial Coliseum. On October 26, 1974 Jim Bosley guested on "Sinister Cinema."
On May 3, 1975 Hollister & Ives persented their last "Sinister Cinema" program. Vic had been promoted by Golden West Broadcasters to Program KEX's sister station KSFO in San Francisco. On the duos last telecast, the movies "Crucible of Horror" followed by "Mars Needs Women." Sinister Cinema continued with new hosts "Gregory" aka Bob Griggs & "Roger" aka Lynn D. Miller. They taped generic movie intros but after three or four weeks, that idea didn't work and Sinister Cinema went hostless. In 1975, 76 & 77 Jim Hollister refused Radio offers to move back to San Francisco.
On May 10, 1975 "The Jim Hollister Show" moved to Saturday mornings 7am to 11am and continued weekday afternoons 3 to 7pm. On October 29, 1975 "The Jim Hollister Show" broadcast by remote aboard a Tri-met bus (Route 51) taking three trips from downtown to Council Crest while talking to passengers on the air. On February 9, 1976 Jim Hollister broadcast his afternoon show by remote from Ski Bowl.
On September 12, 1977 Jim flew around the World, the wrong way (North to South) on a credit card and was kept busy tracking down airport phone booths to report on his progress to his KEX listeners. Hollister traveled 25,076 miles in 111 hours and 43 minutes. He charged up $3,225 on his sojourn. The trip on commercial airlines, took him from Portland, to Anchorage, North over the pole to Copenhagen, then to Rome & Lisbon, down Africa to Johannesburg, then to the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. From there he few to Hong Kong and spent the night, then to Tokyo, Seattle & home. Jim complained the airports had no drinking fountains and had difficulty getting fresh milk on planes.
On May 19, 1978 the last KATU "Sinister Cinema" aired. On June 8, 1978 Jimmy Hollister welcomed the Rose Festival Fleet with a live KEX remote from the bank of the Willamette River 3pm to 6pm. Then on June 10th Jimmy Hollister & Jim Howe emceed KEX's coverage of the "Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade" from Memorial Coliseum at 10am. On Barney Keep's last "Keep Time" show after 35 years, Jimmy was assisting Barn, who asked "What are you going to call the show, Jim?" Hollister said "The Barney Keep Show."
On February 15, 1979 Jimmy Hollister took over "The Barney Keep show" on KEX 6am to 10am with Jim Howe & Peter Linsky, news; Darrell Aune, sports & Dennis Nordin, traffic. And began the popular "Jimmy Hollister Spelling Bee" for grade school students. On August 28, 1979 Jimmy broadcast live from "The Oregon State Fair."
On July 29, 1981 Jimmy Hollister & Jim Howe were in London for the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles & Lady Diana, supplying KEX listeners with all the pomp and circumstance. In 1983 David Apple joined Jimmy & the "KEX Morning Team" with weather forecasts. On March 14, 1984 Golden West Broadcasters sold KEX to Taft Television & Radio Co. On May 31, 1984 Jimmy Hollister began a daily Rose Festival calender of events with special guests on KPDX (TV) at 6:55am & 11:55am. In July 1985 Jimmy Hollister & Bob Miller switched shifts with Jimmy returning to afternoon drive.
On May 23, 1987 Jimmy Hollister announced he had grown tired of the same old routine and would leave KEX at the end of June. "It's just time to go on and wish everyone the best" Hollister said. On June 10, 1987 Jimmy announced he would join KVIX's Old-Time Radio & music format on July 6th, reuniting with old friend Vic Ives who had purchased the station. Together they promised a spontaneous, exciting, fresh and perhaps dangerous foray into radio, something they said had vanished from the Portland airwaves in recent years.
That announcement came out in "The Oregonian" June 11, 1987. That day KEX said Jimmy resigned. Hollister told a different story, saying he was "thrown out" of the building when he showed up for work and was "a little surprised" at the reaction. "Radio has become boring. Stations play to the ratings, not to the listeners. And the result is a bland product in which the first concern is being safe and inoffensive" said Hollister, who also had it with KEX owner Taft Broadcasting. Under previous owner Golden West Broadcasting, Hollister had a lot more creative freedom.
Jimmy said: "He knew Taft was confused about Portland when an order came through to buy billboard advertising promoting how well the station announces school closures caused by snow. "It's all a little too formatted." Hollister said. "It's time to get back and give them something to listen to. It's time to have some fun." Hollister had been negotiating with KYTE when Ives came along with the KVIX proposal. Hollister returned to mornings 6am to 9am with "Lum & Abner" at 6:10. Jimmy was also KVIX Program Director and was free to do pretty much anything according to Vic Ives.
On October 22, 1987 KVIX presented at 8pm "Live At The Heathman" broadcast from The Symphony Room where the audience was encouraged to get involved in the old time radio recreation broadcast by hissing, booing and gasping, every time Jimmy Hollister held up the big sign saying
Gasp!'' Another broadcast took place November 19th.
On October 31, 1987 Halloween, Hollister & Ives returned for the revival of "Sinister Cinema" at 11:30pm on KATU with the movie "Frankenstein" starring Boris Karloff, followed by "The Wolf Man" starring Lon Chaney, Jr. & "The Bride of Frankenstein" starring Bela Lugosi & Boris Karloff. Then "Dracula" and starting at 5:10am "The Invisible Man" starring Claude Raines, ending at 6:30am. Additionally just as the original, Sinister Cinema promoted the duos station, KVIX. When KATU considered doing Sinister Cinema all again, Hollister & Ives were more than ready. "We still had all our old props," Ives said.
Joining the "Sinister Cinema" revival was Darcelle, KVIX's Kevin Ross and Mary Starrett, "AM Northwest" co-host, as the "Bride of Frankenstein." Hollister injured himself in what was supposed to be a pratfall. "I had on this hair and fake eye, and I just went right down on my knee" Hollister said. K2 added a lot of electronic gimmicks making it easier to do video pranks in the 13 years since the original "Sinister Cinema,'' Hollister said, "although the floor is still concrete.''
On March 4, 1988 KVIX broadcast Portland Civic Theatre's benefit dance program "On The Air" from Melody Ballroom with 1940's big band Dell Herreid & His Orchestra. Hollister and Ives were KVIX hosts. On June 11, 1988 KVIX presented "The Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade" with Hollister and Ives describing the goings on from Memorial Coliseum, as well as reports from the parade route.
On September 15, 1988 KVIX switched format and call letters to KLVS, playing all Elvis music. Hollister lost his Program Director job and morning show. In October 1988 Jimmy began filming a small part in the movie "Drugstore Cowboy'' in Portland with Matt Dillon. "He got a million dollars and I got seventy,'' said Hollister, who played a policeman in one scene. On March 12, 1989 Hollister returned to Portland airwaves on KGW Sunday mornings from 6:00am to noon.
On April 24, 1989 Jimmy Hollister took over weekday mornings on KGW. In late May 1989 KGW announced plans to switch to a Talk format soon. Present staff members had been told they would be evaluated to see how, if at all, they would fit into the new format. On July 28, 1989 KGW switched format to Talk Radio and Hollister was ousted from mornings again. On April 1, 1991 Hollister debuted "Your Morning Monitor with Jimmy Hollister" on KBNP, a live call-in business program, weekday mornings.
In 1992 Hollister returned to the San Francisco Bay area for two years, working in commercial production and for a high-tech firm. He then returned to Portland reporting: "People down there were just too busy to talk,'' he said "Even the newspaper delivery boy had voice mail. We came up for four days to Portland and ended up staying 14,'' Hollister said.
My wife told me that she'd live up here and asked me to think about moving back to a place I love where I have friends and contacts.'' Hollister and wife, Julie Odum, were putting together a radio consumer show titled "Winning Tips In A Minute with Julie Odum.'' Hollister was hoping to peddle the program to radio stations all over the country, including Portland.
On December 11, 1993 Hollister returned to the Portland airwaves, substituting as a guest host on KFXX one Saturday. On September 23, 2000 Jimmy teamed with Deborah Barnes co-hosting news and interviews on KPAM Saturday and Sunday mornings. On December 14, 2004 Jimmy Hollister died in Folsom, California at age 66. Jimmy was never happier than when he was entertaining, said his sister, Linnea Hollister. "He was still entertaining up until the day he passed away," she said.
Back in the KEX days "If we didn't have a public appearance," Ives said, "on Fridays he'd insist we go down to Meier & Frank and entertain on the escalators. He loved to entertain and would at the drop of a hat. Wherever he was, it was a party." One time, they were hired by a group of secretaries to perform in the Hilton ballroom. "We did our jokes, both of them," Ives remembers. "It didn't go well. We did impromptu comedy, and when we were on, it was really good. But when we weren't, it was really bad. We weren't.
"I said to him, 'How the hell do we get out of this?' He said, "Ives, do exactly what I do. Lean over and grab your knees." Then he said, "Ladies and gentlemen, Hollister and Ives presents our interpretation of the 100-yard dash." The two partners jumped off the stage, ran down the center aisle and out the door. They were still running when a woman ran after them, waving a piece of paper, "Your check," she yelled. "Mail it," Mr. Hollister yelled back. The next year, they were invited back.
References: The Oregonian.
Special Thanks to Victor Ives who helped make this radio history more complete.