Interesting Article About The Fabulous Moolah From The Miami Herald

Lillian Ellison aka The Fabulous MoolahMary Lillian Ellison, whose flying drop kicks, flying head scissors and hair-pulling ”flying mare” body slams brought her renown as the professional wrestler the Fabulous Moolah, died Friday in Lexington, S.C., near her home in Columbia. She was 84.

She died at a hospital after shoulder replacement surgery, said her daughter, Maryetta Austin.

For more than half a century, as a wrestler, promoter and trainer, the Fabulous Moolah was a leading figure on the women’s circuit. She held versions of the women’s wrestling championship for all but short intervals from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s. World Wrestling Entertainment brought her back at age 76. Clad in a sequined jacket over a green leotard, she pinned her opponent, Ivory, in a match at Cleveland and was again proclaimed the champion.

The Fabulous Moolah enjoyed the mayhem, but she especially coveted the money.

When she started in pro wrestling in the early 1950s, the promoter Jack Pfeffer decided a name change was in order. As she told it in The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle, Pfeffer told her “the name Lillian Ellison wouldn’t do. Not flashy enough.”

He asked her why she was wrestling, and, as she recalled: ‘Annoyed, I blurted out: `For the money. I want to wrestle for the moolah.’ ”

First, she apprenticed as a valet for Nature Boy Buddy Rogers; she was billed as Slave Girl Moolah and clad in a leopard-skin outfit. Soon, she was wrestling as the Fabulous Moolah, and she won the championship belt in 1956. On July 1, 1972, when the New York State Athletic Commission lifted a ban on women’s wrestling, she was the featured attraction at Madison Square Garden.

Mary Lillian Ellison was born in the country town of Tookiedoo, S.C., near Columbia, the 13th child and only daughter in her family. When she was 10, her father took her to pro matches in Columbia and she was inspired to become a wrestler by watching Mildred Burke, the reigning women’s champion.

The Fabulous Moolah was only 5-feet-4 and 118 pounds when she began wrestling as a professional, her physique not particularly imposing. But her maneuvers wowed the crowds.

”Flying drop kick is when you jump flat-footed from the floor up as high as the person you’re looking at and kick them in the face or in the chest, wherever you want to kick them, and then you fall to the floor,” she told National Public Radio’s Fresh Air program in 2005.

”A flying mare is when you get a girl by the hair . . . and pull her over your shoulder, then slam her to the mat as hard you can. And I love doing that,” she explained.

Her jet-black hair dyed strawberry blonde, Ellison remained active in World Wrestling Entertainment into her last years, writing commercials. She was profiled in the 2004 documentary Lipstick & Dynamite about women’s pro wrestling.

In addition to her daughter, of Conway, S.C., she is survived by six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Her five marriages ended in divorce. She lived for many years with Katie Glass, a former midget wrestler known as Diamond Lil, who joined with her in training wrestlers.

Ellison said she never minded the booing inspired by her roughhouse antics.

”I loved when they got mad at me,” she told The State newspaper of Columbia in 2005. ‘They called me all kinds of names. I said: `Call me anything you want. You don’t write my check.’ ”

Source: Richard Goldstein/Miami Herald

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