Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Human Interest

Looking Back...to 1951: Curious about wrestling's Gorgeous George

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'Gorgeous George' Wagner became one of the most popular wrestlers of the 1940s and 1950s thanks to his athleticism, his bleach blond hair, his brilliant self-promotional skills and a singularly outrageous in-ring persona that was ahead of its time. Below is a snapshot of the wrestler from back in 1951.

This story appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on November 20, 1951.

Gorgeous George turns bleached locks, Marcelled hair into a mat fortune

By Jack Slayton

Bleached locks cascaded over his face but the obvious retort died on my lips when I glimpsed the broad shoulders and the powerful arms.

"How are you? I've just bleached my hair and I'm letting it dry.

"Say look at this bleach: this is the best in the business."

I dumbfoundly fingered the empty carton and tried to think of something adequate to say. The best I could offer was, "How long are you going to be wrestling down here?" Thus I met the fabulous Gorgeous George – he of the bleached locks and curled hair. The richest wrestler in the States and the last resort of all comics when the gags run low.

Wrestling's Golden Boy was staying at Stu Butterfields Buccaneer Hotel Court on the Gulf Beaches prior to making an appearance at the Ft. Hesterly Armory last night. From Tampa he goes to Miami and then to Havana.

A powerfully built man, George is 5'10" tall and weighs 215 pounds. His step is light for such a hefty gent but any idea one is meeting the usual grappling "muddlehead" becomes swiftly dispelled when George begins to talk.

After many years of wrestling for "peanuts" George hit the bigtime with his perfumed and blonded hair style as much as with his wrestling technique.

Obviously the numerous interviews had given George a general idea of what was wanted and before I could mutter a brief "How are you and how do you like Florida," he launched into a brilliant defense of his attire and his golden locks.

"Man has been taking a back seat to women for the past 100 years when years ago it was just the opposite.

"A hundred years ago man wore his hair long and dressed with coats of brilliant hues while the women were gowned more conservatively. Many a time the women would mutter, 'My how pretty he is!'

"Why do you know," pointing his finger at me, "that 18 presidents wore their hair long and ten of them were wrestlers. Lincoln was the champion of his home county and even once wrestled professionally."

To all this I looked blank, so seeing a receptive audience Georgia lashed out again. "When I was a small boy in Texas we were poor. My father gave me a dollar to get my haircut. I noticed the long hair on Washington and decided if he wears it long, so will I."

Thus was born the wrestling hero of TV grappling with an assist from the Father of our Country.

A resident of California where he raises turkeys when he isn't raising the tempers of the wrestling fans over the nation, George takes about three tours a year over the country. He informs one and all that he has broken 12 attendance records over the States, several of them being his own set on earlier tours.

Each tour lasts ten weeks and George wrestles from four to five times a week. When he is in California his grappling is cut down and he devotes more of his time to bringing up the Thanksgiving Day dinners.

(GEORGE TRABANT | Tampa Bay Times)

Original caption: Wrestler's Locks in Pigtails - Georgeous George, famous TV grappler, has his hair set in pin curlers prior to his appearance last night in a wrestling card at Tampa's Ft. Hesterly Armory. George was staying at the Buccaneer Hotel Court on Treasure Island.

(GEORGE TRABANT | Tampa Bay Times)

Original caption: Wrestler's Locks in Pigtails - Georgeous George, famous TV grappler, has his hair set in pin curlers prior to his appearance last night in a wrestling card at Tampa's Ft. Hesterly Armory. George was staying at the Buccaneer Hotel Court on Treasure Island.

Besides his locks, George has a valet, who trails after him in the many arenas where he struggles with errant eye gougers. He also drives a sickly lavender–colored car. According to George his turkey ranch is also painted in the same hue but fortunately the turkeys are color blind.

By astute showmanship and a knowledge of the sport, George has parlayed his wrestling earnings into a fortune. He has seven coiffures registered with the patent office and is the sponsor of numerous George pins, George combs and other bric-a-brac needed to keep one's hair out of one's face.

His scientific handling of the turkeys, one of the hardest of fowl to raise, has brought him another small fortune.

Far from being a buffoon or a "screwball" George impresses one as being a gentleman with both feet firmly on the ground and a thorough knowledge of just where he is going.

Everything seems to be in his favor! Even his long hair doesn't hurt as much when it's pulled. He explained it by saying it's more difficult to pull a car with a long tow rope then with a shorter piece of hemp. Could be!

George also proudly announced he was the father of two lovely daughters and happily married. He looked like he was truly on top of the world. I wonder what the name of that bleach was?

(GEORGE TRABANT | Tampa Bay Times)

Original caption: Wrestler's Locks in Pigtails - Georgeous George, famous TV grappler, has his hair set in pin curlers prior to his appearance last night in a wrestling card at Tampa's Ft. Hesterly Armory. George was staying at the Buccaneer Hotel Court on Treasure Island.

Tim Rozgonyi

Twitter: >@timrozgonyi>

e-mail: >[email protected]>

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