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The Bill Camfield Collection - Captain Catfish

Paul Camfield

Sound | 1950s

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In this television segment, broadcast on KFJZ-TV (now called KTVT) Channel 11 in Fort Worth in the 1950s, Bill Camfield plays space explorer Captain Catfish. Camfield later gained notoriety for his character Icky Twerp, host of the children’s show Slam-Bang Theatre.
Television personality William Joseph “Bill” Camfield was born in Mineral Wells, Texas, on June 27, 1929. He moved to Fort Worth following his father’s death in 1935, graduating from Carter Riverside High School in 1947. 
 
Camfield began his career in show business in 1949, when he began writing for and acting in a locally produced television show, Hometown Harmony. Later promoted to Radio-TV Director, Camfield produced and starred in several more shows over the next five years, including Let’s Go Shopping, Billboard, and Meet the Candidate. 
 
In 1954, Camfield went to work for the newly formed independent television station KFJZ-TV Channel 11 in Fort Worth as a writer-at-large and performer. (The channel is now known as KTVT, a CBS affiliate.) It was during this time that he created his most popular characters, including: Gorgon, host of the weekly horror film series Nightmare; and Icky Twerp, host of the weekday children’s show Slam-Bang Theatre. The latter gained legendary status in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with Slam-Bang Theatre introducing a new generation of children to the slapstick antics of the Three Stooges and remaining on the air from 1959 to 1972. Camfield revived the character for a KDAF-TV Channel 33 show called Icky Twerp’s Summer Reunion in 1985 and a Slam-Bang Theater 30th Anniversary Special in 1989. 
 
Camfield died of brain cancer at his Fort Worth home on September 30, 1991.