If you've lived long enough in Central New York to remember Channel 3's "Monster Movie Matinee," you've seen the production work of Joe Turrisi. The former Production Manager and Floor Director died recently at the age of 81. He built the sets for the show and is featured in a recently completed documentary about it.
Turrisi retired nearly 15 years ago, according to WSTM, and he was also the Floor Manager behind the camera that kept newscasts on time by telling talent when it was time to close their segments. News Anchors such as Matt Mulcahy recently shared their memories during a segment of the "Talk Tonight" during a newscast. You may recall him as "Harry the Hack," a character he developed to give his game predictions for Syracuse University Sports.
Turrisi's son, Frank delivered his eulogy at Our Lady of Pompei / St. Peter Church in Syracuse on Friday. He encouraged those grieving to stop and "start celebrating" because that's what his father would have told them, if he were there. Frank says his Dad loved his family and the company of others and recalled many happy times because his father was always, "the life of the party."
"So, acknowledge his wishes. If you celebrate him enough and his boisterous laugh, you just might get another Christmas card in that writing," to which laughter was heard in the church at the thought of that sentiment.
Turrisi also served as a role model for so many up and coming talent that came through WSTM over the years. A look across the pews I saw many familiar faces, but one that stood out from the crowd. Jeff Glor who was a former News Anchor for Channel 3 and now is seen nationally on the weekends during "The CBS Evening News" from New York City. That's the kind of impression Joe Turrisi left on people. I asked Glor if Turrisi made him want to strive to do better, to which replied with a smile and said, "yes."
Turrisi also was a part of the production teams that brought us "Challenge Bowling" and the weekday hour-long "STM Club" with Scooby Doo during the 1980's. The show featured five local segments in between the cartoon featuring then Weatherman Dennis Bowman with his ventriloquist sidekick Chester Drawers. He also helped to produce "The Saturday Showboat," that included the cast "George (Becker) The Magician," The Crafty Lady, Captain Tacky and Susanna Q. Skunk. For 46 years Turrisi kept broadcasts and productions rolling along on time and kept audiences entertained and informed.