Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Now I know who to blame

What do Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan and Hulk Hogan have in common? They all drew inspiration from a Nebraska-born wrestler (what is it with those Nebraskans?) with platinum-blond hair named Gorgeous George. An absolute king of showmanship, George's career was customized for the exciting new media of television. With his flamboyant outfits, carefully curled hair and trademark sneer, he was this bizarre mixture of feminine and masculine whose shtick predated that of Liberace.
Gorgeous George: the outrageous bad-boy wrestler who created American pop culture, by John Capouya, details George's metamorphosis from a traditional, if somewhat boring, wrestler into a consummate showman who clowned around with Bob Hope and Burt Lancaster, sold out performances at Madison Square Garden, and had his own fan club (Bess Truman was rumored to be a member, but I have my doubts). This is a story of his rise to fame, his excessive behavior, and his tumble into obscurity. He eventually ended up living in a flophouse in Hollywood, dying of alcoholism. His legend lives on, though, and his career has influenced a wide range of performers.

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