Here Lies Wally George

The story of the father of combat TV as told by female wrestlers, punk rockers and a furniture-throwing pacifist

   

BENEATH THE WIG
Off-stage, George was different person.

Hayes, in reference to a kiss she laid on George: He tried to stick his tongue in my mouth—bad boy.

In Wally we trust
In Wally we trust

McIlvany: I remember one time I was in the bathroom with him at [legendary metal station] KNAC-FM, and we were both peeing at urinals, and while we were both talkin', I remember thinking, "Wow, this is so surreal."

Blade: Backstage at Channel 56, we would talk in the little corridor, and he would say, "I'm going to talk to you about pop news, and I'm going to talk to you about the music, and then I'm going to scream at you, and about 15 minutes in, we're going to get you thrown off." I'd say, "Sounds like fun, Wally," and he'd say, "Okay, well have a good time, all right?"

The Poorman: He would always throw me off, and then after say, "Jim, that was really great with the bikini girls! I really think that was awesome. Thanks so much, Jim." It was just surprising. I thought he was this hard-ass, but behind the scenes, he was just the coolest dude of all time.

Urungus: As soon as we got there, this guy comes into our dressing room and says, "Hey, GWAR!" and it didn't even look anything like Wally George, and then we realized it was Wally George, and we proceeded to have a wonderful conversation in which he basically just said, "I love your stuff. . . . This is all a show. . . . This is all an act; let's just go out there and have fun with it," and that's exactly what we did. His reputation preceded him, and I must say, whenwe met him for the first time, not only did he impress us, but he also saved his own life. He was like, "Dudes, I'd love to come on tour with you and get hacked and mangled and have a dead dog stuffed up my butt every night, but I think I'm going to stay here in sunny California and do my TV show."

Holland: He actually was nice, and then he tore us apart onstage, and after that, we all felt happy when it was done. We felt like, "Yeah, this was great! We've really helped our band out today."

Schreck: I ran into him occasionally socially afterward, so I got to know him well. I ran into him in a nightclub in Hollywood. He seemed to be a little bit inebriated, and we got to talking. It was completely schizophrenic; whenever we were on the air, he was hostile and playing up this "Wally George" persona he had created, and when he was off the air, he was almost shy and humble.

Pat Matthews, news anchor for KDOC: Wally had a stutter. He would never do it on TV, but behind the scenes, he stuttered like crazy.

Schreck: He was a frustrated performer and musician himself, and I don't really think he took this Republican persona as seriously as he presented it. He told me that he used to be a music reviewer for a magazine or newspaper. We got to discussing our mutual taste in music for the film composer Les Baxter's and Martin Denny's 1950s and 1960s exotica music, and we were both very admiring of Brian Wilson's more experimental work, so it would be surreal to see the difference between our onscreen relationship and our off-screen.

Urungus: From Wally, I felt true warmth and camaraderie. We both played characters; we understood each other perfectly. When I told him on the show, "I'd like to see you crucified," nothing could've be further from the truth.

Todd Witteles, Wally George fan: In eighth grade, my teacher told us to write to a celebrity we admired, and I wrote to Wally George. I didn't tell him it was for a class or anything. Out of 30 people, I was only one of two kids to get a personal response. He even sent me an autographed picture.

Renee Vicary, female wrestler: Did he ask me out? I'd like to plead the Fifth on that one.

But George held a secret: His family life was in shambles.

Schreck: I was very sadistic and arrogant in my youth at that time, obviously, and before I went on the show, I researched him in detail so I would have ammunition. I recall very vividly the only thing that got his goat on the air was when I touched on his complicated personal life. On one of these radio interviews I did with him, I said we had initiated his estranged daughter Rebecca DeMornay into the Radio Werewolf Youth Party, and he turned 10 shades of purple and acted like he was going to have a stroke. That was one of the few times he faltered. It seems like I hit a nerve.

The Poorman: He would always date young women, which I thought was really fun.

Matthews: He married this woman from England and that was also disappointing to him. She was just a trophy wife. He was very sensitive about that; I think it was because he was so much older. She was, like, 40 years younger than him, and I always thought she married him to get U.S. citizenship. When he married . . . we all had our opinions. Mine was, it was doomed from the start. She didn't marry him for love. But they had a daughter named Holly. And she was around the station sometimes, and he was real happy about her and everything.

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