This article is a crosspost from Cageside Seats where I regularly write about pro wrestling's forgotten history. It really has nothing to do with MMA but I thought some of you might find it interesting nonetheless.
"Professional wrestling... has no history, only a past."
- John Ford
"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
- The Phantom of the Ring
November 11, 1947.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Gorgeous George is coming."
The words spoken by the announcer mean nothing to you today... and yet you can't help but feel a tinge of anticipation for what it foreshadows.
It is Armistice Day, and you are "celebrating" the holiday, the first to honor all of America's veterans, and not just those of the First World War. You and your new bride, who is also your old high school sweetheart, are seated on your neighbor's couch, nursing beers, as your eyes are glued to an RCA 640TS. Vacuum tubes project a grainy black and white image of a capacity auditorium crowd on its 10" screen. Wrestling from Los Angeles, California is on tonight.
You haven't watched much wrestling, or television for that matter, before. You've never actually owned one, or even known someone who has, until now. And although wrestling doesn't interest you, today you'll watch it, because it's on television, and you'd watch anything on television. At least that is what you told yourself.
How things have changed.
Only a few years ago you were crawling on your belly on some unnamed Islands in the Pacific, or trampling across a field in Europe, while your girl, the woman you now call your wife, was working long hours at a "man's job" as a mechanic, a cab driver, or on a factory assembly line producing the weapons to get you home.
The two of you survived the War, and before that a Great Depression, and now you are getting your chance at peace and the so-called "good life". You have a home in the suburbs, a job that pays the bills, night classes (thanks to the GI bill), a wife you love, and soon a family. The world finally makes sense, and that is the way its supposed to be, right?
A red carpet is unrolled down the aisle, followed by the first notes of "Pomp and Circumstance". From behind the curtain appears a sharply dressed man holding a silver serving tray, carrying a whisk broom and a giant spray canister. You are informed this is Jeffrey Jeffries, the val-et-tay of Mr. George.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Gorgeous George is here."
You sit up a little.
And now you see... him. And it goes without saying, you have never seen anyone like Gorgeous George before. Dressed in a flowing robe, with long, meticulously blonde curled hair, put up in some elaborate woman's hairdo ("The Marcel" done by Frank and Joseph of Hollywood, as you are informed later). He walks, no, he struts towards the ring, pausing to disdainfully wave at the booing audience, peering down his nose at them as he does so. An expletive from the crowd is met with the reply "peasants."
And if you're interested in more stories from wrestling's past check out Cageside Features Guest Column by: John S. Nash.