George Wagner his real name was an unlikely pioneer. He grew up poor in Houston, the son of a housepainter and sickly mother who died when he was After struggling for years as a clean-cut, dark-haired wrestler, the high-school dropout transformed himself into preening Gorgeous George with the help of his first wife, Betty, who also functioned as his seamstress, promoter and travel agent.
Gorgeous George: Lessons From a Bad Boy - WSJ
Wrestling became an early programming staple because it was plentiful and cheap to broadcast. Either way, Gorgeous George struck the country with the force of a body slam. While some puritans were offended by his snobbish, effeminate behavior, millions of men and women he attracted more females than most wrestlers loved to watch him strut his stuff in and out of the ring. His success even spawned a host of blond bad-boy imitators, several of whom had the audacity to call themselves Gorgeous George.
Although he lived on a turkey ranch in California, he was rarely home with Betty and their two adopted children. Once, he supposedly punched a female fan who ridiculed his hair.
Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture
Another time, irate fans stormed the ring after George used foul play to win a match, forcing him to flee for safety. His next-to-last match, against a masked meanie named the Destroyer, ended in ignominy, with the Gorgeous One getting his long blond locks shaved off in the middle of the ring.
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Just more than a year later, he was dead. Twice-divorced, George was living in a Los Angeles flophouse and dating a stripper when he had a fatal heart attack. He was Alongside Memphis, Detroit, New Orleans, Macon, and Muscle Shoals, Florida has a rich soul music history - an important cultural legacy that has often gone unrecognized.
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This is the first-ever biography of the legendary wrestler Gorgeous George, filled with incredible never-before-told stories. George directly influenced the likes of Muhammad Ali, who took his bragging and boasting from George; James Brown, who began to wear sequined capes onstage after seeing George on TV; John Waters, whose films featured the outrageous drag queen Divine as an homage to George; and too many wrestlers to count.
Amid these pop culture discoveries are firsthand accounts of the pro wrestling game from the s to the s. The ideal American male used to be stoic, quiet, and dignified. But for a young couple struggling to make ends meet, in the desperation born of the lingering Depression and wartime rationing, an idea was hatched that changed the face of American popular culture, an idea so bold, so over-the-top and absurd, that it was perfect.
That idea transformed journeyman wrestler George Wagner from a dark-haired, clean-cut good guy to a peroxide-blond braggart who blatantly cheated every chance he got.