The Golden Age of Wrestling Photo Album -Portland, Oregon


Barst, Frank (Compiler). An extraordinary wrestling archive filled with over 300 photos of wrestlers and promoters some signed from the "Golden Age" of professional wrestling including such marquee names as Lord Littlebrook, Haystacks Calhoun, Bull Montana, Prince Kuhio, Bing Ki Lee, Frenchy Robbierre, and Mad Dog Vachon, as well as match tickets, 100's of match bout reports (many with annotations), many from Don Owen Promotions, others from Gorky's Tavern, wrestling magazines, column clippings, and even a 1920s poster for a match featuring Moose Norbeck vs. Farmer Vance. Portland, OR: Pacific Northwest Wrestling/Portland Wrestling, 1918-1967. Three volumes. Oblong 4to. Two post-binders with 319 original photographs (some in co lour), nearly all identified with small hand-written slips taped either to the margin, identified in pencil on verso, and a few signed, and nearly all dated when taken on the day of the matches, preserved in archival mylar sleeves, sized from 2 x 3.5 in. up to 8 x 10 in. (most 5 x 7 in.); Third volume, a oblong 4to. slipcase divided into compartments holding 100's of match reports, some typescript, most ditto copies, and nearly all annotated in pencil or ink, either with changes in line-ups, winners, and numbered, or stamped at the foot of the sheet, stretching from the early 1950's through the late 1960's, and over 100 ticket stubs, over 100 paper clippings; 1 folio broad side poster printed on thick paper stock sized 11 x 14.5 in., white lettering stamped on front covers, an exceptional piece. This phenomenal archive of original photographs, match reports, clippings, documents, and magazines assembled by Portland sports columnist Frank Barst, provides an invaluable visual document of the glory days of Professional Wrestling in Portland, Oregon in the mid-20th century. In the first half of the 20th century, wrestling matches were wildly popular, and every region in the United States organized and maintained their own wrestling titles, and weekly matches. Following World War II, wrestling reached new heights, and a number of the independent wrestling companies across the country, including the Pacific Northwest Wrestling/Portland Wrestling Company in Oregon formed the National Wrestling Association. With the advent of national television broadcasting in the early 1950's, the professional wrestling associations exploded, and their popularity skyrocketed. The professional wrestlers were drawn from every ethnic group, and minority group in the United States including Native Americans, Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Samoans, Hawaiians, other minorities such as Little People (who were heavily featured and even maintained their own wrestling association), and many others. These 100's of photographs carefully document 100's of wrestlers, with nearly all neatly dated indicating the days of their bouts, the person typically in his wrestling get-up outside of the dressing room, some action shots in the ring, and more. These include George "Catalina" Drake (d. 1972), born on Catalina Island, CA, and served with the 511th Airborne during World War II; Lord Littlebrook (Eric Tovey (b. 1929)), who at 4 ft. 4 in. and at 108 lbs. was considered the greatest of the Midget wrestlers who debuted in 1949 and appeared regularly to his retirement in 1997; Haystacks Calhoun (William Dee Calhoun (1934-1989) whose gargantuan size of 6 ft. 4 in., and 665 lbs. made him one of the foremost drawing cards during the 1950's and 1960's, and was noted as the first super-heavyweight to actively train and contained a wide repertoire of grappling maneuvers; Bull Montana (Lenny Passaforo (1926-1992)), who fought 1158 matches, and debuted in 1950; Hawaiian Prince Kuhio (Curtis Piehau Iaukea III (1937-2010)), who debuted in 1955, and would eventually fight 1307 matches; Mexican Bing Ki Lee (Philip Lee Hahn (1932-2011)), who also fought as White Avenger, El Santo, and El Principe Chino, and debuted in 1954 fighting over 480 matches; French Canadian Mad Dog Vachon (Maurice Vachon (1931-2013)), who debuted in 1951, and maintained a wildly successful career through the 1950's and 1960's fighting in over 2100 matches. Many of the matches, match reports, and programs included in this archive were those from the Don Owen Productions of Portland Wrestling, later known as Big Time Wrestling which was a weekly and pioneering sports television show which first debuted in 1952 on Portland KPTV, and was the first wrestling show seen on Television in the Pacific Northwest. This weekly program lasted until 1991, and was one of the longest running wrestling shows on air. Frank Barst (1902-1974), was a Portland area sports journalist and columnist whose popular column was featured weekly in the Television section of local newspapers for decades reporting on the trials, tribulations, and antics of the sporting world, especially professional wrestling.

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