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1950s / Gorgeous George
Pro wrestling's first superstar was George Wagner, better known in the world of grappling thespians as Gorgeous George. His shtick was designed to outrage conservative-minded Americans of the 1950s. George was quick to realize it didn't matter if the patrons bought tickets to cheer him or jeer him--as long as they bought tickets. With Pomp and Circumstance as his entrance music, George would often climb into the ring clad in effeminate robes, his long hair pinned back with gold bobby pins. His valet would spray George's corner with perfume and his opponent with disinfectant. Gorgeous George was a TV icon in the early 1950s. His appearances on the tube often scored higher ratings than Milton Berle. Muhammad Ali cited Gorgeous George as the inspiration for his braggadocio. George retired from wrestling in November 1962. He died of a heart attack just 13 months year later, on December 26, 1963. He was only 48 years old.