It was my honor to spend a year working with the daughter of Lord Leslie Carlton on his biography. Lord Carlton isn’t as well-remembered as many of his contemporaries, but he was one of the biggest draws in the 1950s.
Born Leo Whippern and descended from Hungarian royalty, Carlton began his wrestling career as “Sailor” Tug Carlson. He rode the roughhouse sailor gimmick as far as it would take him and then transformed himself into a main event star in the 1950s, becoming the English royal Lord Carlton.
Carlton’s legacy has been overshadowed by the great Gorgeous George, who had a similar gimmick, but neither man copied the other. In fact both of them copied off the original wrestling aristocrat, Lord Patrick Lansdowne. Carlton was successful enough in the ring to retire in style. He spent his latter years managing real estate and enjoying his first love, painting. But it was not a happy ever after ending. Carlton’s first wife was murdered by his own son, and he survived multiple attempts on his own life perpetrated by his second wife!
Lord Carlton led an amazing life. He is an icon of a bygone era, a super heel whose story every aspiring modern heel should read. Even if you’re not into all that “rasslin'” talk, you’ll be thrilled to see just how many times he cheated death at the hands of his own bride.