Pro Wrestling/Politics Question.
November 27, 2016 1:05 PM   Subscribe

So, I've been rereading Shot in the Heart, by Mikal Gilnore, brother of the murderer Gary Gilmore. In one anecdote, the author describes the family, living in late 50's - early '60's Portland, Oregon, going to the local pro wrestling matches. They describe razzing and then befriending on of the grapplers, who wore a skull mask as part of his costume. The Gilmore says that now, the wrestler is a local conservative radio/TV show hero. Who's he talking about?
posted by jonmc to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The timing is off, but this almost certainly has to be Jesse Ventura, who wrestled in the region at the start of his career in the mid-1970s.
posted by synecdoche at 3:20 PM on November 27, 2016

Jesse's from Minnesota.
posted by jonmc at 3:40 PM on November 27, 2016

Ventura is not known to have routinely wrestled under a mask, nor was he a conservative radio host in 1994, when Shot in the Heart was published.
posted by Etrigan at 3:43 PM on November 27, 2016

Yeah, Etrigan, this one's a stumper. I figure with all the Portlanders on this site, somebody will know.
posted by jonmc at 3:47 PM on November 27, 2016

Are you sure "local" means Portland? Gilmore was (is?) a longtime writer for Rolling Stone, which moved its headquarters to NYC in the 1970s. If Gilmore was writing the book in NY in the late 1980s-to-early 1990s... it's a long shot, but there's a big gap between Morton Downey Jr.'s early music career and his later, more successful talk show/talk radio career.
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 4:11 PM on November 27, 2016

Actually, now I'm wondering if Gilmore's somehow confusing Dick Beyer (who wrestled, masked, as The Destroyer in Portland and as Doctor X elsewhere) with Richard Bey (The Richard Bey Show, and radio gigs).
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 9:14 PM on November 27, 2016

Final thoughts before turning in: "Playboy" Buddy Rose had a call-in talk show in Portland in the 1990s, but the dates aren't right for him, either. Rose was born in the 1950s, when Gilmore would have been attending these bouts, but he did wrestle masked for half a minute in the 1980s, as The Executioner of all things. If someone else was using that name way back when, maybe that's the connection.

A masked Hangman character, played by martial artist Gene LeBell, pops up for 1950s Pacific Northwest wrestling, too, but his later media work is acting and stunt coordination. Mr. LeBell's now my hero, because his wikipedia page told me he once choked Steven Seagal to the point of unconsciousness.

Mr. Gilmore has a twitter account. I read the wrestling-related excerpt on Amazon; many wrestlers who were active in the 1950s have passed, so the idle speculation that the one in question may have engaged in some petty larceny may not matter so much.

Thanks for this question!
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 10:34 PM on November 27, 2016

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