In the early days of broadcasting, two stars did more to put televisions into homes than anyone else: Milton Berle and Gorgeous George. Born George Wagner, the gorgeous one began his wrestling career as just another brunette babyface in black trunks. Hoping to make himself stand out, Wagner found inspiration in a fellow wrestler named Lord Patrick Lansdowne. Lansdowne was a farm boy from Ohio, but a fancy wardrobe and a butler named Jeeves transformed him into one of the most hated men in wrestling.
George took Lansdowne’s idea several steps further. He grew out his hair, dyed it blonde, and commissioned a distinctive hairstyle known as the marcel. He began wearing purple trunks and had a series of lavish, expensive robes made to fit his 210 pound frame. Gorgeous George was hated by men by adored by women, who made up half the wrestling audience in the 40s and 50s. Wrestling from Hollywood became a television hit, and George became one of the most sought after guest stars. He even worked a celebrity wrestling match for charity against Burt Lancaster, with Bob Hope filling in as his own personal assistant Jeffrey.
Alias the Champ would be just another B-movie from the 1950s if it were not for Gorgeous George. The plot centers on a New York mob trying to muscle in on the California wrestling scene, and while George isn’t the focal point of the story, but judging from the posters and ads put out for the film, it’s clear Republic Pictures was counting on him to be the draw. Keep an eye out for some other wrestlers in the film as well, including Sammy Menacker and Tor Johnson, who became a cult favorite when he appeared in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Gorgeous George changed the face of television and professional wrestling. His charismatic personality gave rise to future wrestling stars like Ric Flair, Adrian Adonis, and Tyler Breeze. His influence can also be seen outside wrestling in the careers of James Brown, Bob Dylan, and Muhammed Ali.
“Alias the Champ” is now available to view free on INC – The Independent Network Channel. The INC channel is available for free only on ROKU.
About a year and a half ago, I had the privilege of eating lunch with Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin and his life long adversary Jim Cornette at Clarksville Seafood. Stories were shared about their childhood, their life together, and their days in the ring. Many of them made their way into Kenny’s book, but some details did not. It was an incredible time listening to two of Kentucky’s biggest wrestling legends banter back and forth, and it was arguably one of the funniest conversations I have ever had in my life.
On May 21 Kenny wants you to join him and Jim for a similar experience at the Golden Corral on Taylorsville Rd in Louisville! Breakfast with Bolin is a once in a lifetime chance to have breakfast AND lunch (yes, you read that right) with the Starmaker and the original Louisville Slugger.
The conversation, complete with questions from you and other fans, will be filmed for future release as a DVD and distribution on the INC Network on Roku.
The date, time and location are now confirmed: May 21 at 10 AM at the Golden Corral on Taylorsville Rd in Louisville. Kenny is now selling tickets direct through his Facebook page. $29 is the price that gets you two meals and a seat for one of the most entertaining days of your life. What’s more, Golden Corral has decided to make this a charity fundraiser, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the sons and daughters of veterans to enable them to go to summer camp.
If you’re a wrestling fan in or near the Louisville area, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Jim has traveled the country doing Q&A’s and giving talks on his career, but Kenny does NOT do this. If you’re one of the many who only download Jim’s podcast when Kenny is on, you will not want to miss this chance.
Please visit Kenny’s Facebook page to get in touch and book your spot before it sells out!
Gorgeous George is one of the most influential wrestlers of all time. If there were no Gorgeous George, one could argue there would be no Buddy Rogers, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Superstar Billy Graham, Jesse The Body Ventura, Adrian Adonis, Rick Rude, Tyler Breese, or even Tracy Smothers. Yes, I said Tracy Smothers. Watch Gorgeous George in action, and then go see Tracy “Don’t Pull My Hair!” Smothers in action.
I’m happy to say you can now see Gorgeous George in all his resplendent glory on the INC channel. Two NEW episodes of Eat Sleep Wrestle are no available to view on the Roku channel INC, and one of them features a nice, long look at Gorgeous George himself.
And just as a follow up to my recent post about George Wagner (George’s pre-gorgeous ring persona) appearing for Louisville’s Allen Athletic Club in 1930s… it turns out the Human Orchid returned in 1955 to wrestle for the Allen Club as Gorgeous George. Feast your eyes on the evidence below. Then download the free INC channel to your Roku device and enjoy!
Eat Sleep Wrestle: The Golden Age is a new wrestling program available only on the INC Channel on Roku featuring some of the greatest stars in the history of wrestling. ESW is the place to see Hall of famers and legends like Gorgeous George, The Shiek, Bobo Brazil, Mildred Burke, Cora Combs, Fritz Von Erich, Thunderbolt Patterson, and Warren Bockwinkel.
Produced by wrestling historian John Cosper, each episode of ESW features part or all of a match not seen on television in generations. Host Roni Jonah opens the show with a biographical sketch on the stars featured in each episode.
Eat Sleep Wrestle: The Golden Age can only be seen on INC, the Independent Network Channel, on Roku. INC features the best of obscure, out of print b-movies across all genres as well as current independent films from directors like Jerry Williams, Claude D. Miles, and George Bonilla. INC plans to offer more wrestling related in the future including the films of Mexican wrestler El Santo.
John Cosper is a writer and wrestling historian. His published works include Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville, Eat Sleep Wrestle, and I Probably Screwed You Too: The Mostly True Stories of Kenny Starmaker Bolin.
Roni Jonah is a professional wrestler turned actress and film director. Her wrestling resume includes Ohio Valley Wrestling and Women’s Extreme Wrestling.
Follow INC Channel on Facebook.
While you’re there, be sure to check out “Frank Jordan: Evil Snowman” by John Cosper, available on INC Story Time.