Back on February 12, 2016, I published a piece called Who the Heck is Dracena Morg, discussing Centaur Distribution’s abortive attempt to repackage Strange Paradise in the mid 1980s. The mysterious Ms. Morg — proposed hostess of this new presentation of the series — was a buxom witch in a form-fitting black dress, quite obviously inspired by another popular horror hostess from the late-night airwaves of the time. Ultimately, Centaur’s effort to reboot the syndication package fizzled, and Dracena Morg was never retro-fitted into the Strange Paradise cast. However, despite never having appeared on even a single television viewer’s screen, she did get the chance to meet the public as an ambassador for the series. Check out the following excerpts from the January 20, 1986 edition of the newspaper The Arizona Republic:
CONVENTION REVEALS BOOM IN FIRST-RUN PROGRAMMING Only in TV, where an afterlife in syndication exists for most canceled network series, does the future stretch behind. Many offerings on the massive showroom floor at the National Association of Television Program Executives convention are video flashbacks, dating as far back as network TV’s infancy … But, in recent years syndicators and stations have been paying greater attention to the present. With the number of independent stations continuing to grow … and all needing to fill their broadcast days, an unprecedented boom in first-run programming has resulted … Each year, a new batch of programming hopefuls arrives at the convention. By convention’s end, many have been scrapped for lack of interest. Some shows, though, are so brazen or different as to draw stares. Tops in the category this year, at least after one day’s search, has to be … Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. In an effort to get a headlock on sales, a mock ring has been constructed for the GLOW grapplers to have at it. In the “Haven’t I seen you before?” category is Dracena Morg, seen Saturday sipping a drink with Spiderman. This Elvira-lookalike is the host of 195 half-hours of the gothic soap opera Strange Paradise.
So Centaur Distribution actually sent Dracena Morg out to at least one industry trade show to drum up interest in the re-packaged Strange Paradise. Regardless of whether or not it was a good idea to re-invent the series as fodder for a Movie Macabre style send-up, it seems a shame that actress Claudia Day (the performer behind the Dracena Morg persona) invested such effort into promoting a project that would never be seen by an audience. Today, all that remains of Dracena are a few stray promotional photos and the odd newspaper item. Perhaps one day Claudia Day will surface, and give us the scoop on her brief tenure as the “strange lady” in the Desmond family crypt.
The Conjure Doll – 9/29/16