Friday, January 11, 2008
Birthplace: Augusta, Georgia
Birthday: August 11, 1953
Undoubtedly the most recognized personality to emerge from World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation), Hulk Hogan maintained enormous popularity as a professional wrestler throughout a long career that saw its share of dizzying highs and humiliating lows. Though wrestling had always been defined by absolutes -- the morality tale of good versus evil – the story behind the scenes was far more complex, as personal tragedies entangled in an intricate web of a billion-dollar business. For Hogan, however, brushes with scandal did little to unhinge a successful career that saw his face on lunch pails, bed sheets and movie posters the world over. With his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, he cemented his place in wrestling’s elite and the cultural pantheon.
Born Terry Bollea in Tampa, FL, to a construction worker dad and homemaker mom, Hogan was always athletic, wrestling and playing Little League in his youth. His fast-growing frame required more food than normal – a typical breakfast consisted of 10 eggs, 12-ounces of hamburger and a quart of orange juice. By the time he graduated Robinson High School, Hogan was 6’7” and weighed over 300 pounds. While in high school, he began playing bass in local bands, earning $300-400 per week at clubs and parties. He later attended Hillsborough Community College, then the University of South Florida, where he studied music and finance. But Hogan wanted to play music rather than study, so he quit college to focus on his band. Music, however, soon gave way to the humdrum life of bank telling, where Hogan routinely witnessed bruised and burly men with few teeth cashing rather large checks. When he later discovered they were wrestlers, Hogan contacted a local promoter, who challenged the upstart to an audition. Though he broke his ankle, he returned three months later, humbled and ready to learn. He even began working out to trim his bulky frame to a lean 220.
Hogan began his career under the persona Terry Boulder and earned $125 a week while sleeping in his car. He moved around – Minnesota, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia – wrestling under different guises, like the masked Super Destroyer or Sterling Gordon, before eventually settling on Hulk Hogan. Meanwhile, wrestling impresario Vince McMahon saw him on television and invited Hogan to wrestle at Madison Square Garden. After 18 months with the growing WWF, he was given a note backstage from Sylvester Stallone asking him to appear in “Rocky III” (1982). Thinking it a hoax, Hogan ignored the request and went to wrestle in Japan for eight weeks. Upon his return, however, he received another message from Stallone: Come to LA, now. Despite warnings from McMahon, who had Hogan booked for a match in North Carolina, the young wrestler left for the West Coast.
After appearing in “Rocky III” as Thunderlips, a pro wrestler who challenges the boxing champ in a free-for-all match, Hogan became an overnight celebrity and helped the regional WWF become a national phenomenon. Hogan’s intense following was dubbed “Hulkamania,” with his red and yellow bandanas, handlebar mustache and 24-inch pythons soon becoming widely recognized trademarks – even outside the wrestling world. To add to the brouhaha, on Jan. 24, 1984, Hogan defeated his arch nemesis, the Iron Sheik, at the Garden, earning Hogan his first world title. The following year saw the birth of the yearly Pay-Per-View event, “Wrestlemania,” in which Hogan joined “Rocky III” co-star Mr. T in a tag-team bout against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. But it was in “Wrestlemania III” (1987) that Hogan cemented his fame when he paired off against Andre the Giant, lifting the 500-pound wrestler for a winning body slam – perhaps the most talked about match in “Wrestlemania” history.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Hogan won and lost heavyweight championships, and was on the card for nine consecutive Wrestlemanias. Meanwhile, he ventured into acting with “No Holds Barred” (1989), playing an up-and-coming wrestling star forced into a match after his brother is injured by his nemesis. Not much of a stretch for the novice actor. Predictably, the movie bombed at the box office. After a cameo in “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” (1990), Hogan starred as an intergalactic hero stranded on Earth in the sci-fi comedy, “Suburban Commando” (1991). He then tried his hand at domestic comedy with “Mr. Nanny” (1993), playing a down-and-out wrestler who becomes a family’s bodyguard for extra cash. Though he did all he could for laughs – even donning a pink tutu and singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” – the movie bombed.
In the early 1990s, Hogan became entangled in a drug scandal that rocked professional wrestling to its core. He was first accused by former wrestlers – including “Superstar” Billy Graham – of abusing steroids throughout the 1970s and 80s, while Barry Orton claimed that Hogan did cocaine. To mitigate the damage, Hogan went on “The Arsenio Hall Show” (Syndicated, 1989-1994) and explained away the accusations, claiming that he was prescribed steroids to treat an injury and had used them only a few times. But in 1994, he proffered testimony to the contrary after being granted immunity in Vince McMahon’s trial for illegally providing steroids to his wrestlers. Hogan admitted what others had previously claimed; that he had used the illegal substance for almost two decades. Meanwhile, he left the WWF for Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling, where he adopted the bad-guy persona, Hollywood Hogan.
Hogan stayed with the WCW for the next 10 years while he continued acting, albeit in much lower-profile features. Most titles – “Thunder in Paradise” (1993), “The Secret Agent Club” (1996), “Santa with Muscles” (1996) and “McCinsey’s Island” (1997), all riffs on his tough guy image – went straight to video. He then joined former “Rocky III” costar Carl Weathers for “Assault on Devil’s Island” (TNT, 1997), playing a retired Navy Seal who leads a special commando team to rescue a gymnastics team kidnapped by a South American drug cartel. He returned for the sequel, “Shadow Warriors 2” (TNT, 1999), in which his character, Mike McBride, is injected with a deadly serum by Middle Eastern terrorists. Meanwhile, Hogan dipped his toe into episodic television, appearing on “Suddenly Susan” (NBC, 1996-2000) and “Walker, Texas Ranger” (CBS, 1993-2001).
In 2002, Hogan made a triumphant return to the WWE when he faced another wrestling star-turned-actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, in a special Pay-Per-View event. But despite his return – along with many other former favorites of the WWE – wrestling was rapidly losing television viewers and live audiences due to accusations of fakery, over-saturation and weak storylines. Hogan left wrestling in 2003 – supposedly for good – before he was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. But an impassioned chant from fans during the ceremony at the Universal Amphitheater for “one more match” induced Hogan to return once again. In the Pay-Per-View show, “Backlash,” he participated in a tag team match with Shawn Michaels and notched another win on his belt. Meanwhile, Hogan joined the reality show craze, allowing cameras to intrude upon him and his family for “Hogan Knows Best” (2005- ), VH-1’s answer to “The Osbournes” (MTV, 2002-2005). Viewers found the famous wrestler’s overprotective ways with his beautiful daughter Brooke particularly, amusing – especially when male beaus came calling.
posted by Abu71 @ 4:42 PM, ,
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posted by Abu71 @ 2:06 AM, ,