The Phantom of Vaudeville was an antagonist on the 1975 Filmation Live Action Saturday Morning kids' show, The Ghost Busters. As his name suggests, he was a ghost, apparently called The Phantom Of Vaudeville even in life, and was an act with Elmo, who to all appearances was his ventriloquist dummy, somehow now also a ghost. The pair have returned to seek revenge on an act named Slapsy, Maxie and Nijinsky, who pushed them out of the limelight. In keeping with one of the running gags of the show, the offending act was three guys, one of them wearing a gorilla suit. They appear in the show's sixth episode, 'The Dummy's Revenge'.
At the Ghost Busters' office, Jake Kong breaks up a very poor ventriloquist act with Eddie Spencer using Tracey The Gorilla as his dummy. While Jake takes care of some personal business, Tracey and Eddie get their assignment from Zero, who tells them of the Phantom's revival and of a secret the vengeful duo have—without telling them the secret. An effort by Eddie and Tracey to get tap-dancing lessons for their 'act' draws the attention of The Phantom and Elmo, who are divided on whether or not the heroic trio are their old enemies.
Finding the Ghost Busters' office, Phantom and Elmo attempt to humiliate the offending 'act' by forcing Tracey out of his 'gorilla suit', an effort that not only enrages the very real (within the show's cheesy world) gorilla, but tells them that these aren't their old enemies. On the other hand, they decide they don't much like those who bust ghosts. The Ghost Busters head for the duo's lair, aka the same old castle used in every single episode. To their shock, the ghostly pair is immune to the Ghost De-Materializer, but they learn that, if the small masks the ghosts wear are removed, they will be banished nonetheless. After a very weak effort to convince the hiding ghosts that they are in fact Slapsy, Maxie, and Nijinsky by performing a number, the Ghost Busters manage to corner the Phantom and remove his mask. It is only then that the secret from earlier is revealed : The Phantom was the dummy, and diminutive Elmo the ventriloquist. Removing the mask from the Phantom only reverted him to his inert form from a Human appearance. Removing the mask from Elmo finally banishes the two of them. Back at the office, Jake Kong is forced to wonder if they really are gone when the moose head on their wall begins to talk, but it is only the much-improved Eddie Spencer having fun.
- Even in 1975, it would have been many decades since the heyday of vaudeville, yet never do the Phantom or Elmo stop to consider if Slapsy, Maxie and Nijinsky are even still alive.
- The Phantom and Elmo's appearance marks the second time in the series the Ghost De-Materializer was not used to send a ghost away. The first time was Sir Simon De Canterville, who was not the actual antagonist of his episode, that being Mister C. In that case, Sir Simon met the conditions of his curse and moved on. In this case, the special protection keeping the pair around was broken.
- One of the very cheapest effects in a very low-budget series appears when Elmo is exposed. Rather than a little person actor (like the legendary Billy Barty in the episode with Big Al Caesar), real Elmo is played by a small child they made no effort to disguise, who all but runs into the arms of Forrest Tucker as Jake Kong.
- According to IMDB, Phantom actor Tim Herbert was an accomplished character actor, appearing in many notable films including 'Duel', 'Soylent Green', and a 1966 comedy with Jake Kong actor Forrest Tucker called 'Don't Worry, We'll Think Of A Title'. But his most prominent villain role besides this one was in the test-pilot for Batgirl's role in the 1966 Adam West Batman series, where he played Killer Moth, certainly the first actor to ever play the role, taken down by Yvonne Craig's character.
- Oddly for a series so pun-reliant, no one in this episode brings up that a vaudeville performer, good or evil, is referred to as a 'vaudevillian'.
Ghostbusters 1975 Villains
Big Al Caesar // Dr. Frankenstein // Mister C // Werewolf // Flying Dutchman // The Phantom of Vaudeville // Queen Forah // The Witch of Salem // Billy The Kid & Belle Star // Count & Countess Dracula // Jekyll & Hyde // Red Baron // Eric The Red & Brunhilda // Morgan Le Fay // Dr. Centigrade