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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 27 June 1929Mineral Wells, Texas, USA
Date of Death 30 September 1991Fort Worth, Texas, USA  (brain cancer)

Mini Bio (1)

Born in Mineral Wells, Texas, Bill Camfield graduated from Texas Christian University in 1955. Working at Leonard's department store, a friend suggested he try out for some work at Fort Worth's KFJZ-TV Channel 11 (Now KTVT). Camfield wrote, produced and starred in commercials for the station clients. His best remembered commercial was for a local bank where he created the character "Mortimer Moneybags." Live television was in it's heyday and people were needed to not only host programs but to also fill in for sick or vacationing hosts. Camfield filled in for the station's children show. For this, he created a character: a sea-faring captain called Captain Swabbie. Later, he would create a character called Ickabod Twerpwhistle. To go along with the character, he wore a rumpled black suit, bad toupee, tiny cowboy hat and black rimmed glasses that became his trademark. The station management fell in love with the character and told him to hone it and create a live action show that could be blocked with cartoons. And hence, Slam Bang Theater, was born. Bill Camfield changed the character from the captain to a gentleman named Icky Twerp. (Rumor is that a station secretary saw him in his get up and exclaimed, "What an Icky Twerp!") The show included skits that revolved around Twerp and three gentlemen in ape masks named Ajax, Arkadelphia, and Delphinium. When the "apes weren't fighting, playing pranks or throwing pies at one another, SBT would show old cartoons such as The Mighty Hercules, Felix The Cat and old and new Popeye cartoons. The show was so popular, it was shown on both weekday mornings and afternoons. But what really made SBT and Icky Twerp stand out was Bill Camfield's introduction of Columbia Pictures "The Three Stooges" to a new generation of children. (Many parents were not happy with the Stooges slapstick antics and would not allow their children to watch SBT. Because of this, SBT became an underground sensation with local Dallas/Fort Worth children.) To thank Camfield for introducing a new generation to the Stooges, they cast him in a bit part as the mayor in the 1965 movie. The Outlaws Is Coming! Icky Twerp was one of the three top live children television entertainers in Dallas/Fort Worth along with Jerry Haynes'/ WFAA-TV Channel 8's Mr. Peppermint and KDTV-TV (now KXTX) Channel 39's Bozo The Clown. On Saturday nights, teenagers and their dates would tune into Channel 11 on Saturday nights to watch Nightmare, a late night horror movie show interlaced with live actions scenes of "Gorgon" (a "moonlighting" Bill Camfield), the care taker of the show. But all good things must come to an end. After receiving a new job offer in Denver, Bill Camfield hung up his suit in the early 1970's. Claiming he had inherited the "Lost Twerp Mine" from his Uncle Ickabod, he threw a shovel over his shoulder and to the tune of "You'll Never Walk Alone", he walked off into the "sunset" of the KTVT-TV parking lot and faded away. Slam Bang Theater would continue for many years to come as a stripped down version sans Twerp and company. Only The Three Stooges, the Slam Bang Theater theme and the cartoons would remain. Camfield worked for a cable company and other TV industry jobs and finally for the Fox owned television stations group. This new job would bring him back to Dallas/Fort Worth to work for KDAF-TV Channel 33. He worked in sales primarily but his Twerp character was revived on the station in a show called "Icky Twerp's Summer Reunion in 1985. New live action scenes were created and interlaced between Summer and beach-type movies. This time his son, Paul was part of the cast for the first time. In 1989, a Slam Bang Theater 30th Anniversary special was produced for KDAF-TV. It included old stage hands, local children that had appeared on the show, and clips from the last 30 years. Hosted by legendary Dallas/Fort Worth radio pioneer Ron Chapman, the show was taped before a live audience at the Comedy Corporation in Arlington. The Governor of Texas and the State Legislature passed a Proclamation declaring it "Icky Twerp Day". While continuing to work for KDAF-TV and Fox, Camfield also wrote a column about growing up in Mineral Wells for the local paper there and for the Fort Worth Star Telegram's StarText computer service. He was diagnosed with brain cancer and died on September 31, 1991 at his Fort Worth home. On the same day that Bill died, the Dallas/Fort Worth community laid to rest another local television pioneer: KXAS-TV (formally WBAP-TV) Channel 5's Harold Taft, the station's first weatherman hired some 30 years before. He died three days before Camfield.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mick Williams <host@cyber-line.com>

Trivia (1)

Inducted into the Horror Host Hall of Fame in 2013 as his character Gorgon the Gruesome.

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