Conservative talk show host Wally George, who was known more in recent years for repeatedly beating death than repeatedly berating Hot Seat guests, finally died of pneumonia Oct. 5 in a Fountain Valley hospital. He was 71 but looked much older.
As you read the following, it will become apparent the Weekly will miss Wally dearly:
In my brief dealings with Wally, I found him to be a vicious bastard onstage and a sweet, sickly old duffer offstage. I never came close to figuring the guy out. Was he a really far-right maniac blind to the hypocrisies of denouncing strippers on the same show where he did live commercials for strip clubs, or was it all actually a huge lefty prank, calculated to make conservatives look ridiculous by exposing their worst excesses? The man Howard Stern once called a "wig-wearing hump" was all that and more, but who knows what that "more" really was. (Greg Stacy)
WALLY GOT ME A DATE!
I didn't know how to hit on my catechism-class companion. The woman was so brilliant and beautiful I found it hard to follow the mysteries of the Trinity as they were uttered from her rose-tinted lips. None of my classmates offered me any romantic advise as they, too, ached to be press against her ample bosom. My younger sister, however, had this to say: "Talk to her about Wally George. She once met Wally, and you like Wally."
We went out on a couple of dates, but they quickly faded away: the only thing we had in common was Wally. You can't build a relationship on Wally. (Gustavo Arellano)
I was volunteering in the Weekly's charity-fundraising booth at the 2000 Orange International Street Fair when seemingly out of nowhere appeared the melting wax figure that was Wally George. Holding his hand was daughter Holly, who I'd guess was about 12.
"OHMYGOD! Wally George. How the hell are you?" I asked.
"Who is your editor?" he barked.
"Will Swaim," I dutifully answered.
"No, no," George insisted. "The one who writes all those nasty things about me."
"No, he has a column every week . . ."
I slowly raised my hand and said, "Guilty."
"I'm a nice guy," George said. "If I weren't with my daughter, I'd punch you in the nose. Put that in your column."
"Thanks for being here," I told Holly. "Otherwise your dad would have punched me in the nose."
I don't volunteer to work Weekly booths any more. (Matt Coker)
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Like Jesus, like Martin Luther King Jr., like a suicide case sucking on the business end of a rifle, Wally George saw Death coming from a long way off, could hear what you hear when Death approaches—not the sibilant whisper of a scythe, but Weekly writer Gustavo Arellano. And then George called me. It was last November, and Arellano had just raved about Mr. Smoke, a Polish restaurant in Anaheim where George's picture hangs on the wall. Let that prescience sink in: "Mr. Smoke."
Arellano described George as "the coffin-dodging TV conservative." George called me, first cursing, then threatening a libel suit and finally saying he would come down to the Weekly and "sock you in the fucking face, you little son of a bitch." Like many right-wingers—I'm thinking Bob Dornan, George Bush and Bill O'Reilly—Wally was always bluffing. I told him to stay where he was, that if he could hang onto that thought for just a few minutes, I'd spare him the drive and come rearrange the face that reminded me too much of Rebecca DeMornay in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Then George started crying. 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." And the "coffin-dodger" comment? That was really a compliment, I pointed out. Now I bet he agrees. (Will Swaim)