Monday, August 15, 2005

Fr. Bill Olivas Has Heart Attack

From Tom Burke:

The well liked frair, Fr. Bill Olivas who wrestled for many years as Tony Olivas aka the Elephant Boy had a heart attack 2 weeks ago while on vacation.

I called him last nite to inform him of the passing of Chris Tolos. He told me that he had a heart attack and is in recovery. They performed open heart surgey on the Padre.

He is feeling well and hopes to continue his ministry in the next couple of months. He is also looking forward to attending the 2006 CAC.

As I think back some 60 years ago when WW2 ended and realize that we are seeing his generation slowly slip away. Fr. Bill was is the Normandy Invasion and continued
in the Army for another 6 months after the end of WW2 (they would not release him due
to his linguist talents). As 1000 WW2 vets pass away daily it reminds us what it must have been like to have a been a war to save the world.

Anyone that would like to send Fr. Bill a card his address is as follows:

Fr Bill Olivas, OSA
St. Thomas Friary
185 St Thomas Drive
Ojai CA 93023

RIP - Chris Tolos

Remember Golden Greek Chris Tolos, #1 Brother
By photojournalist Mike Lano, 70's Tolos Brothers Fan Club President

At last year's Cauliflower Alley Club Vegas reunion after his friend of more than 40 years, Red Bastien honored him on stage with a golden potato award; Golden Greek John Tolos nearly put the large crowd in tears by mentioning how much it affected him that so many of his longtime brothers in the business kept dying each year. "Each year I really do see less and less and it really gets to me," he said.

We can only imagine the hurt John is feeling now at losing his beloved brother Chris--a humanitarian on the level of Chris "Superman" Reeves widow Dana, a famous cook and author, a great tag team wrestler and more. The business mourns the passing of Chris Tolos too; who for decades took great care of his sister(who reportedly had Multiple Sclerosis) and their mother who lived to a great old age. John would always come back home from wherever he was at--Pacific Northwest, Texas, Kansas City, Japan to help Chris out as best he could. When Chris left all the Sheik, Toronto/Tunney, Wildman shows to stay at home in Hamilton; he also began writing books with his famous Greek recipes that so many of the boys loved. "Everyone loved Chris' cooking, he was always like a big gourmet chef" Pepper Gomez said in 1996. And as with Dana Reeves getting cancer, Chris' death reportedly from cancer just doesn't seem fair at all.

Certainly the golden days of the Tolos Brothers were the late 50's and 60's. John would become a legend later by branching off to Los Angeles and setting all sorts of records with his 1971 outdoor L.A. Coliseum spectacular with Fred Blassie(Sheik-Brazil was on the undercard along with Mil Mascaras, Shibuya-Saito vs Gordman and Goliath and tons more). But when Chris came to join John at the latter's peak of face popularity in the spring of Los Angeles '72 territory(John soon after the Blassie blowoff match, turned face thanks to the even heeler antics of Gordman and Kenji Shibuya on L.A. KCOP channel 13 tv) ; the magic was recreated. My boss, Jeff Walton, Olympic Aud/L.A. Wrestling Club publicist and many of us will never forget the call and recall promos the Tolos' cut.

"We're gonna destroy Shibuya and (Killer) Kowalski. You two are bums. Right Brother Chris?" John would yell.

"You're absolutely right brother John," Chris intoned. And so it would go back and forth to a fiery conclusion. Never did they do anything less than 5 stars on the mike. And the match they had with Kenji Shibuya and Killer Kowalski(then America's tag champs) was a one hour broadway 5 star affair too. Chris lost his book during the match at the Olympic Aud, but kept working without it. No angle, no gimmick, he just lost his shoe; but didn't miss a beat of the match.

For those of us who hadn't been able to catch Tolos tag team mayhem decades earlier, 1972 would see the pair take on(at smaller SoCal venues) teams like Sheik and Ernie Roth(in his Weasily Abdullah Farouk persona), Ernie Ladd and Kowalski and more. Chris had singles feuds with Billy Graham who was just developing his amazing color scheme sense before finessing it further in AWA-land; prior to the big WWWF move. The yelling promos Graham and Chris Tolos had were fun and the blowoff was John reffing Chris against Graham underneath a match fans were told was "beamed back live to Japan and the rest of the world"--The Funk Brothers dropping the "intl' tag titles" to Shohei Baba and Seiji Sakaguchi. The Tolos and Funk boys all together in one locker room. Does it get better than that?! The opening matches? Nick Bockwinkel on his way to Japan facing Killer Kowalski, and Ernie Ladd vs Don "Arson" Carson. And Dory Dixon was on the card too.

Chris was only around about 4 months. And yes, when he'd try to speak Spanish, he'd mangle a few words and everyone in the back would howl as he tried calling Gordman and Goliath "frogs" in some artificial Spanish Raul Mata had told him to say. Or intentionally mispronouncing Shibuya and Earl Maynard's names. Thankfully we taped all the audio onto casettes from this period-Wednesday was Olympic Aud tv in English and Spanish and Saturdays was KCOP in English with another legend--Dick Lane. 1972 was just a magic time for the Southern California territory, and we have Chris in large part to thank for it. When he first arrived, he was far too pale since he spent most of his time in colder, nether regions. John soon dragged him to Venice and Santa Monica beaches so they'd "color-match" a little better. Chris also was a gentle ribber, along the likes of beloved Vic Christy too I'm told. John himself in L.A., would take care of and watch over Vic during the latter's last years. These guys are a credit not just to the biz, but to all people.

The wrestling community sends John it's love and prayers during this tough time. If you watch current wrestling on tv and lament the loss of great tag teams; remember just how great the Greek Wrecking Crew--Chris and John were amidst many tremendous duos at the time. They set and absolutely demolished the bar, as Chris might say.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

World's Oldest Wrestler Turning 100

Abe Colman will turn 100 on September 21st.

He is living in a nursing home.

CAC members Tom Townsend and John Pantozzi visit Abie.

Cards and best wishes can be sent to Abie in care of Tom Townsend at the following address:

74-45 Yellowstone Road
Rego Park New York 11374

Abie started wrestling in the 1920's up to the the early 60's. A small man, but a dynamite wrestler, who continued to show his stuff as he got older.

When he was in his late 70's while walking in a park near his home, two young guys saw this old fella and well he was an easy mark for a mugging. Make a long story
short, Abie took em both down and gave them a lesson in what shooting was all about.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


That is a lot of wrestlers, and a young man named Mike Scheef has captured that meny in his unique drawing talents. I met Mike last month in Newton, Iowa at the Hall of Fame inductions. He had brought some pencil drawings of all the honoree's to be given to them with their award and a large sheet of dwawings with about 50 or so wrestlers faces.He donated these to the Hall to sell and make some profit for the Hall, they went like hotcakes, They were magnificent, and he brought with him a few books with 1000 drawings of the wrestlers from the 30's to the 90's. As a old time autograph collector, and I still get a few, this would have been a collectors dream to own, 1000 pictures all large enough to see and identify, and just look at. he has the old timers like Gino Garibaldi, Count Billy Varga, Argentina Rocca, Gene Stanlee and right up to Kurt Angle. Go to his web site, it's not fully complete but enough to see these great drawing, its Click on the drawing section and be impressed, I know I was. I have encouraged him to offer these books to our members and he has agreed. It's a must for every collector or fan, let me know what you think of this young mans talent. he is already working on the second thousand. I was lucky enough to get one of these books in Newton for the CAC archives, and it is full of memories. He has said he will have them in Vegas next year.