World Wrestling Entertainment today announced that Gorgeous George, the man often credited with creating American pop culture and who set the standard for future WWE Superstars and influenced such greats as Muhammad Ali, James Brown and Bob Dylan, will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 27, 2010. His 97 year-old former wife, Betty Wagner will accept the honor on his behalf. The Hall of Fame ceremony will be broadcast that night on USA Network at 11 PM ET from the Dodge Theater in Phoenix, Arizona.
"Gorgeous George was a pop-culture innovator who took risks pushing the social envelope and did things that no other performer had ever dared to do," said CEO and Chairman Vince McMahon. "He was a cultural tour-de-force who set the standard that many in the world of sports and entertainment still emulate today."
The significance of Gorgeous George’s legacy led WWE Studios to option the rights to his story for a major motion picture slated to begin production in 1Q 2011.
Muhammad Ali, whose notorious boastful and arrogant style derived from George, stated, "I made up my mind after meeting Gorgeous George to make people angry at me … I saw 15,000 people comin’ to see this man get beat. And his talking did it. I said this is a good idea."
Bob Dylan, the music poet, said, "A mighty spirit. Crossing paths with Gorgeous George was all the recognition and encouragement I would need for years to come."
Gorgeous George, born George Wagner, single-handedly changed the dynamics of not only wrestling, but entertainment and sports in the 1940s-1950s. His character was an arrogant aristocrat dressed in silk, lace and chiffon robes who spoke in a braggadocio style, often referring to himself as "The Toast of the Coast" and "The Sensation of the Nation." Audiences around the country came to see Gorgeous George perform live, and tuned their TV sets in to see what he would say or do next, making Gorgeous George one of the biggest celebrities of his day, and an influence on pop culture for generations to come. As popular as Lucille Ball and Bob Hope, media observers believe more Americans purchased televisions to watch Gorgeous George perform than to see Milton Berle.
Others to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 27 include Ted "The Million Dollar Man" DiBiase Sr., former Women’s Champion Wendi Richter, Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon and Japanese legend Antonio Inoki.