Here Lies Wally George

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

Myers: Here's this good lookin' gal. What the heck is goin' on? And, like, a year later, she brings in their daughter, and I'm trying to imagine this couple that created this baby.

Thorpe: I was one of the most abusive callers, but I loved Wally, and I still do. One time, I [called Hot Seat Hotline and] said something about his wife . . . and they bleeped it out. He was very, very angry. He said, "Come down to the studio, meet me outside, and I'll break your nose!" and I'm, like, a 13-year-old boy at the time. After he threatened me and everything—and I remember it like it was yesterday—he looked into the camera and said, "Your mother should have had an abortion."

Schreck: After I hadn't seen him for years, I remember one of his last wives had [moved] to England with their daughter, and I thought that was very strange. You just got the impression that there was something weighing on him.

In Wally we trust
In Wally we trust

McIlvany: I was on Hot Seat Hotline the day his wife [left]. He asked me things that, as an 18-year-old, I didn't know how to answer, like, "Why would she leave me and take a gun with her?" In my head, I was thinking, "Well, maybe she's feeling a little claustrophobic," but I didn't want to tell Wally that, so I said, "I'unno." Then he had his radio show and complained as if he had heard all the things [Tom] Leykis had said [about his wife leaving], when really it was me who filled him in.

Matthews: It was a shame because he was like a tragic figure. Bad things always happened to him.

   

THE HOT SEAT COOLS DOWN
Despite all of the national buzz, George only remained a regional cult hit. Nationwide, George was a media joke—Howard Stern memorably referred to him as a "wig-wearing hump." KDOC canceled his show in 1993 but allowed George to host weekly clips of Hot Seat classics.

Tolcher: He claimed to be in more than 160 television markets in the United States, including being on in Australia and Britain.

Blade: I think he always wanted a little fame, a little accolade, a little adoration. He got it in a small way with the TV show. If you hear him talk about the TV show, he talks about millions of people watching, and it's seen all over the U.S. and and South America, places like that. It was all B.S. None of that was correct. There was maybe a cable channel in Milwaukee that had it on channel 87, which in those days was impossible to find because most TVs only went to 13.

The Poorman: I think he was so broke that Calvin Brack, who was the owner of KDOC, he actually . . . Wally was living at [Brack's] house in the later years because he was broke, and Cal took care of him.

Tolcher: Jerry Springer's net worth is $75 million. Wally, at the end of his life, was unfortunately not good. He didn't make a lot of money doing this show.

Kuc: He filed for bankruptcy.

In the pages of the Weekly in his final years, he was a recurring object of loathing and pity. In a story from 2000, Greg Stacy wrote, "Wally was going to do an appearance at a local titty bar. . . . It turned out to be one of the most depressing scenes I've ever witnessed. The place was about the size of your living room, and there were maybe eight guys in the audience, none of whom were there to see Wally. Wally's handlers led him in, and my heart sank into my socks. Wally looked 100 years old. His skin was spoiled-milk gray, and he was wearing a wig. I could barely hear the club's thumping music over the sound of Wally knocking at death's door. He was signing autographs with this sweet ol' grandpa smile, and I just knew it was all over. There was no way I could kick a guy when he was this down. I got my picture taken with him (I wish I could tell you where it's gone) and fled into the night."

In 2002, after Gustavo Arellano described him as a "coffin-dodging conservative" in a food review, George threatened the paper with a libel suit—then proceeded to cry.

Former Weekly editor Will Swaim wrote in 2003, "The Thomas Edison of Combat TV was suddenly Bawly George. He was old, he said, 'and you don't know what it's like to escape death so often.' There was some near-deadly car wreck, brain cancer and heart trouble—and his prostate, I figured—all of it followed (and he made this sound dramatic) by Arellano's food review. He didn't say, 'Oh, how could you mock me?' But that was kind of the point. Could I understand how he hurt? 'Wally, I had no idea you were human,' I said. 'I'm sorry. Really. Never meant any harm.'"

George died on Oct. 5, 2003, of complications from cancer. Former music editor Chris Ziegler penned an obituary for the Weekly. In it, Ziegler recalls the time he and his friends had seen George host a karaoke event at a La Mirada bar. "Wally had spent just about 20 years gnashing at the freaks and weirdoes and longhairs and mutants and dopers and punks and burnouts, and at the end, he came back to us because, I guess, we were the ones who really loved him for what he was. . . . We clapped when he finished and started to leave. 'Hey, Wally,' said the kid in the leather jacket as Wally was shaking hands on his way out of the bar. 'What's up?' 'This guy!' barked Wally good-naturedly. 'I haven't seen you since the Hot Seat! C'mere!' And he gave him a happy, comradely hug."

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19 comments
artpedroza
artpedroza

Can you believe it Gustavo? Ourfriend Sean Mill worked on this show.

Rabbi_Pedro
Rabbi_Pedro

The greatest TV EVER was when Wally's guest was J. B. Stoner. Stoner complained bitterly about the,"Jews, Niggers and Faggots". I still laugh so hard tears come to my eyes. Also I was also a vicious caller on Hot Seat Hotline!

madmonsterparty
madmonsterparty

Wally George ushered in the angry conservative talk show genre which ultimately led to the Coulters and Limbaughs we now endure. Today angry conservatives are in positions of power shutting down the government and refusing to accept responsibility for having done so. It seems personal accountability is not something angry conservatives believe in.

jose810725
jose810725

I loved wally i was lucky enough to be thrown off his podium 3 times during comments once for calling reagan a nazi. Years later he was cool enough to record a greeting for me on my machine it was great he said on my greeting that i wasn't home because i was out smoking a joint and badmouthing the government it was classic wally! I think it's criminal that kdoc taped over his shows i think it would be great to see those shows in their entirety. Rip wally=jose s. And piss off richard blade you limey fuck!

BillBancroftsStache
BillBancroftsStache

There was no "Hot Seat Hotline".  It was "Hot Seat Highlights," and there were no calls making fun of Wally's wig, etc.  I

Page 1 and it's already wildly inaccurate.  In a word: LUDICROUS!

Pantell Adam
Pantell Adam

I went to a taping of the show with my buddies from high school. I was picked to ask him a question. Rudy Krauss was his guest with the super cosmic visor. I have the footage of the whole episode on DVD. I'm trying to go to Facebook or YouTube but it's the wrong format.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

Sick of all the spanish because we're white and don't speak spanish.

Two words from him (Gus) last week, "Following Up" and still haven't seen the article or cover page about the Christian Hypocrites that he told me was a 'good idea". Because these people seemingly want to make themselves look like they're above everyone else and make them live thier lives by the Christian ways and rules, when this country was not founded on Christianity but I'm an Agnostic as even Jesus (not Haysoos) as he was reportedly supposed to have been himself back in his day. The Earth is millions of years older than +2000 years old.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

"My experience with Arellano is that he starts to have communication with you with positive promises, then disappears after the first email exchange, failing to follow up - as if to say he has more important things going on than to deal with readers".

I found his book that was written by him called Ask A Mexican the other day and I was thinking to myself, that's interesting sort of, but alas we all still wish that the old publisher hadn't have been canned in exchange for him because the paper has gotten less thicker than the old version and there isn't much real news in it anymore, I've even seen complaints about it every once in awhile. I don't mean to complain much but after all it's a free publication. And since the Village Voice Media ( a gay publication) picked it up it's got more stories about the fags in it too which detracts from it's quality. I'm not gay so I could really care less about thier lifestyle.

Steve York
Steve York

Wow Richard Blade came off as mean and full of cliches. He can talk down on Wally all he wants but I doubt anyone will be talking about Richard Blade ten years after he's dead. Wally won.

VinceDaniels
VinceDaniels

The word that drove it home that best described George in this article, is Accessibility.  On the show, Wally often said to guests, "you couldn't shine his shoes."    10 years after his death, The Weekly's Gustavo Arellano still can't shine Wally's shoes when it comes to being accessible to the public.  My experience with Arellano is that he starts to have communication with you with positive promises, then disappears after the first email exchange, failing to follow up - as if to say he has more important things going on than to deal with readers.  With Wally, he always showed up.  He always returned a phone call.  Regardless of his on-air persona, that goes a long way in my memory.

ElGalloNegro
ElGalloNegro

When I was a kid, I used to watch Pro Wrestling (NWA, WCCW), then the Hot Seat.  It was perfect.

And I am curious to see a list of people who declined comment for this article.  No Rick Dees?

Frank Balcazar
Frank Balcazar

WALLY. WALLY. WALLY WALLY WALLY. WALLY. WALLY WALLYWALLY. WALLY. WALLY WALLY

Rabbi_Pedro
Rabbi_Pedro

@BillBancroftsStache - Hotseat Hotline was on every afternoon at like 3:30 or 4. 5 minute stupid commentary and then 20 minutes of high school kids calling in and making outrageous insults at him. He would hold up dayglow signs calling us Perverts, Nit Wits and my favorite insult, "You SWINE" with the sound of a pig oinking in the background! God life was good in the 80's. 

BillBancroftsStache
BillBancroftsStache

Oh dear.  Apologies, my own toupee wax fumes confused me.  Of course there was a  Hot Seat Hotline w/ calls.  But let us not forget Hot Seat Highlights!

464 611111111111111111111111111111111111111111


GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@VinceDaniels Wow, talk about having a hard-on for me. I don't even know who your are...when did you email me?

VinceDaniels
VinceDaniels

@GustavoArellano @VinceDaniels I can't remember, it was two or three years ago.l I'm sure I have a copy in my sent file.  You were once or twice a guest on The Jay Boatman Show, a radio talk show that I owned as executive producer. Jay gave me your info because I wanted you on to debate illegal immigration on my show. I emailed you and you replied by saying yes, you'd come on.    To a producer and host (of which I was both), saying "yes" means something to me.  It means that 1/6 of my show was good to go and I can move on to the other 5 half-hour segments, which I needed to have all figured out by thursday night so that I could send out my E-Blast for Saturday's show.   My next step was to continue the email exchange with you and set up the time for the segment, get your number so my engineer could call you, etc.  But you disappeared, never to be heard from after repeated attempts to get ahold of you.  No rhyme, no reason.   You got right back to me the instant I emailed you the first time on a saturday night.  Then I hung on, waited for you to get through your weekend and emailed you again on monday morning, and monday night, and tuesday morning, etc, you suddenly became disinterested, after you had made a commitment.   At least that was the only way I could take it.   Communication had broken down.  All I could do was assume.  No guest has ever blown me off like that in my 10 years of doing my show.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@VinceDanielsThat's bizarre—I never turn down radio requests. It could be that your subsequent emails were lost in the morass that is our spam system. I am not trying to make excuses; email that I never receive even after I've exchanged email with someone happens WAY too much. If you still want me on, I'm more than happy to appear—but I'm sure at this point, you wouldn't want me on, which is fine.

 
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