George Ellis was a well known and fascinating Atlanta actor and theater manager. He was a horror movie host on WAGA-TV in the 1960s, and he and his son Michael ran the Film Forum, probably the best film house ever to operate in the city, between 1971 and 1974.
The image to the left is from E-Gor's Chamber of Horror Show Hosts.
I'm going to lead off my article on George Ellis with a youtube post from the 1965 movie, "The Legend of Blood Mountain", (also released under the name "Demon Hunter") in which he played his signature horror host role, "Bestoink Dooley".
His Bestoink Dooley character on "Big Movie Shocker" was known to nearly everyone who was a child or adolescent growing up in Atlanta during the 1960s. Before the wave of weekend (usually Friday night) local television horror movie shows in the 60s, the only time the horror classics like "Frankenstein", "Dracula", "The Wolfman", and "The Mummy" were televised were around Halloween. My own memory was that Forrest J. Ackerman's wonderful magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, first published in 1958, created a demand for horror movies among young people which was not being served in the Atlanta market until Big Move Shocker came along.
In the 1970s, after his horror show host career ended, Ellis ran a number of movie houses which showed films deemed too artistic or edgy to be shown in the mainstream theaters of that time. The best known of these was the Film Forum in Ansley Mall. He managed the theater, which was the only venue where Atlantans could see the works of great foreign directors such as Bergman and Kurosawa, from 1971 until 1974, when he was abruptly fired by a new owner of the theater.
I remember the Film Forum during the Ellis years fondly. Atlanta at that time was not what you could describe as cutting edge with respect to art film. There were no DVDs, no cable TV, and no Netflix. If you wanted to see works by European, Asian, or Latin American film makers, or even interesting American made movies which weren't popular enough to last in the big theater chains the Film Forum was the place to go. If you lived in Atlanta, and wanted to regularly see any films outside the big budget Hollywood world, it was the Film Forum, or a drive to New York.
In addition to starring in "The Legend of Blood Mountain", which was filmed at Stone Mountain, and according to one source, Lake Spivey, Ellis acted in local theater and played in a number of low budget films. At the time he left the Film Forum at Ansley Mall, he had a part in a movie called Moonrunners, which also featured James Mitchum and Waylon Jennings.
There are many references to George Ellis on the web. Here are some interesting links:
If you want to discover a lot more about George Ellis, do a web search for "George Ellis, Bestoink Dooley, Film Forum". You'll find many photos, blog posts, images of posters and articles about this fascinating man, who played such a large role in the life of Atlanta in the 1960s and 1970s.