Monday, November 26, 2007

The Fabulous Moolah

I just finished reading Lillian Ellison's autobiography, The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess Of The Squared Circle. I got it from the library after reading an obituary earlier this month about her death. Ellison was one of the big stars of women's wrestling in the 1950's, a subject that has always interested me since it is a part of early television history.

When television started most sets were being sold to bars, taverns, and saloons. The companies building these sets were also the companies that owned the television stations. Since their main objective was to sell as many television sets as possible they knew they had to find programing that would bring in the audience they needed to accomplish this goal-and as cheaply as possible. One of the things they came up with was wrestling. It was a big hit and Lillian Ellison was a part of it. At first she played the role of Slave Girl Moolah* to other male wrestlers but soon became The Fabulous Moolah and fought her way up to women's world championship title. She held that title on and off for the next 30 years.

The book is not that good but it is an enjoyable read. Lillian tells so many lies it is hard to tell just what is the truth. Well, maybe they aren't lies really just exaggerations. Like when she says she picked 100 pounds of cotton a day when she was only eight years old or when she says she would hide a length of pipe in her tights and used it to bonk her opponents on the head or when she describes all of her bouts as if the outcome wasn't know before she stepped into the ring. This includes the time she won the World Wrestling Entertainment's Undisputed Women's Championship in 1999 at age, well, she's not telling but does admit she was in her seventies at the time.

What I most admire about Lillian Ellison is how she had a passion for wrestling and did not let anyone talk her out of it. She and the other women who wrestled in the early and middle part of the last century were willing to get into a ring and be as unlady like as possible in a time where being ladylike was the most important quality a woman could possess.

Lillian Ellison never let society tell her who she was nor did she let it tell her how she should act in old age. She says this about going back to wrestle in her late sixties/early seventies:

...I also wanted to come back to prove a point to people my age. Life doesn't have to end when you get your AARP card in the mail. Mae (Young), Katie (Diamond Lil Glass), and I stay away from senior citizen's outings because it always feels like too many people our age give in, give up, and stop living. I've always been about getting off of my ass and going after life, rather than waiting around to die. I figured if by watching me, one sixty or seventy-something fan get up off his or her duff and goes out and does something, experiences something new, different, and challenging, well, then my comeback will be well worth it.

All our lives society is not so subtly pressuring us to act a certain way depending on our sex or age and I have always felt that pressure. I've managed to resist it for the most part and like Lillian, I hope I continue to do so.

Lillian Ellison's wrestling Bio.

Website of Lipstick and Dynamite, a film about early women's wrestling.

A Review of Lipstick and Dynamite.

A short history of professional wrestling.

*She got the name "Moolah" when she was asked why she got into the wrestling game and answered, "For the moolah." Moolah is slang for money.

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