The fictional Jack Perkins
Michael J. Nelson portrayed Jack Perkins on Mystery Science Theater 3000 twice; first in Fugitive Alien and then as part of the MST3K Anthology, including the "Turkey Day" edition of Night of the Blood Beast. He is somewhat unflatteringly portrayed as a scatter-brained man prone to long, meandering, name-dropping rambles about nothing in particular. The character also became the host of The Mystery Science Theater Hour, a short-lived syndicated version of the series.
Frank and Clay brought in Jack, a former host of A&E's Biography, to introduce experiment 310, Fugitive Alien. They quickly grew tired of his endless monologues and took great pleasure in physically torturing him into submission. Joel Robinson and his robots puzzled, "Who's Jack Perkins?"
As part of the MST3K Anthology (also known as "Turkey Day '95"), Jack was invited to Thanksgiving dinner by TV's Frank shortly before the latter's departure. Unfortunately, Frank left for Second-Banana Heaven before that Thanksgiving, leaving Dr. Forrester alone to deal with Jack, as well as numerous other guests. As part of the Anthology, a special "one-time-only" edition of Night of the Blood Beast was aired. Here it was revealed that Mr. Perkins rather enjoys alcohol, as he became intoxicated and professed his love for Mr. B Natural. Later on, after Pearl has poisoned Pitch the devil, Kitten with the Whip and Mr. B Natural and after she, Jack and Clayton all give a farewell, Pearl then tells her son that she'll let him do the honor of killing Mr. Perkins.
The Mystery Science Theater Hour
In 1993, reruns of Mystery Science Theater 3000 were sold into syndication. However, instead of the full two-hour program, thirty-or-so episodes were cut in half so that they would each only have to take up one hour of airtime. Mike Nelson once again donned the makeup and prosthetics of his Jack Perkins persona, this time as the host of the Mystery Science Theater Hour. The episodes were seven minutes shorter than the originals, to allow Perkins to give the occasional humorous monologue. Though he was referred to only as "Your Host," the host was clearly Jack Perkins. The show lasted until 1994.
The real Jack Perkins
Jack Perkins (born 1933) has been dubbed "America's most literate correspondent" by the Associated Press. He is a reporter, commentator, war correspondent, and anchorman. He has appeared on NBC's Nightly News and The Today Show, and on A&E as the host of Biography. He also is currently the host of A Gulf Coast Journal, a weekly magazine show which airs on Tampa, Florida PBS affiliate WEDU-TV.
Currently, Perkins devotes a great deal of his time to creating original photography and poetry which he brings together in books, the most recent: "Island Prayers: Photographs and Poems of Praise." It is available on his web site, jackperkins.com.
Perkins and Nelson have met in real life, however it said on the previous MST3K website on the Sci-Fi Channel's site that Perkins has not watched the show, claiming he didn't have cable. He was similarly spoofed as a sarcastic alcoholic by Darrell Hammond on Saturday Night Live.
Perkins' son, Eric Perkins, has followed his father into journalism as a sports anchor in Minneapolis, MN at the NBC affiliate KARE 11.