Guest Author - Vance Rowe
Gorgeous George set the standard for the flamboyance that is in all kinds of entertainment. From professional wrestlers to professional entertainers, they all owe a debt of gratitude to the man “who brought wrestling to the world.” Elton John, Little Richard, Muhammad Ali, Adorable Adrian Adonis, Ric Flair, even Bob Dylan has mentioned Gorgeous George as an influence in his career.
There have been many wrestlers who have set a standard in the world of pro wrestling, but, Gorgeous George set the standard for the heels (bad guys). He wanted to shock the world and he certainly did that. He died his hair platinum blonde, wore gold plated bobby pins and a large purple robe loaded with sequins. A purple spotlight shone down on him as he walked to the ring and the music of “Pomp and Circumstance” played during his entrance. This is the same music that the Macho Man Randy Savage used during his entrances. He used to get the fans riled with his flamboyant behavior and his big mouth and the fans used to come to his matches to see someone hopefully shut his mouth.
George dropped out of high school to take odd jobs to help support his family and at age fourteen, he began wrestling in carnivals where he would around thirty-five cents every time he won a match. In 1938, George won his first title when he defeated Buck Lipscomb for the Northwest Middleweight title and almost a year later, George won the Pacific Coast Light Heavyweight title. George was about 5’9” in height and weighed in around two hundred fifteen pounds. So he was not a monster by any means nor did he have a lot of in ring talent but pound for pound, George Wagner was one of the best workers in the ring. He married his first wife, Betty Hanson, in an in-ring ceremony and the crowd loved it, so they “got married” in just about every arena across the country after that.
He loved the showmanship part of the sport and that is when he decided to adopt his “effeminate” style and loved to hear the crowd boo him. He loved the attention and loved to egg the crowd on. His valet, “Jeffries”, carried a silver mirror to the ring and dropped rose petals at his feet. He also sprayed Chanel #5 around like it was a disinfectant and sprayed the ref’s hands before he searched him for weapons. If the ref didn’t get his hands sprayed first, George would yell, “GET YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF OF ME”.
George passed away in 1963 but his legend never died and the phrase he coined, “Win if you can, lose if you must but always cheat.” Is still being used today and his legacy lives on in every flamboyant entertainer we see today whether it is a wrestler, a singer or a television entertainer, Gorgeous George lives in the star in all of us.