Books | Sports

January 6, 2009

The Ultimate Showman

Gorgeous George's flamboyance influenced the greatest of all time and today's NFL showboats, as well as Bob Dylan and James Brown.

Nick Matros

When most young people hear the name Gorgeous George, they tend to stare off into space for a second, reflect, and say something to the effect of, "He was some kind of wrestler, right?" In his time, though, Gorgeous George was the self-proclaimed "Toast of the Coast," the "Sensation of the Nation." Donning effeminate robes and curling his long locks to mimic the style of the starlets of the '40s and '50s, George Wagner transformed himself into the Human Orchid and, if you dared defy this claim, or mess with his hair, you'd get a gouge to the eyes.

In his book Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture, John Capouya takes us from George's humble depression-era beginnings as a carnie sideshow attraction where he first learns wrestlers' secret double-talk, to the pinnacle of his stardom as a television wrestling superstar, and finally through the Human Orchid's losing battle with alcoholism.

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Article by Nick Matros

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