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November 4, 2007

Remembering The Fabulous Moolah

The Fabulous Moolah didn’t just dominate women’s wrestling for parts of four decades, she was women’s wrestling. Moolah (Lillian Ellison), who died at 84 on Friday night, is unquestionably the most influential and famous female wrestler in history.

Younger fans may know her only as one-half of WWE’s spirited octogenarians, as she and Mae Young were used as comic relief on WWE programming over the past decade. For those who were around when “Hulkamania” was a new phenomenon in 1984, Moolah is remembered for taking part in WWE’s first big mainstream angle, as she wrestled Wendi Richter – managed by pop star Cyndi Lauper – on MTV.

I started following wrestling when I was in elementary school in the mid-1970s, and I have vivid memories of Moolah. In those days, there were monthly house shows at the Baltimore Civic Center, and women’s matches would be on the card a few times a year. In an era when women’s wrestling was not overrun with silicon-enhanced models, Moolah was a heat magnet and really knew how to rile up a crowd. Both men and women seemed to truly despise Moolah, as they shouted words at her that my young ears had no business hearing.

I was too young to know anything about the art of being a heel, but, looking back, I recognize just how talented Moolah was as a performer. Not only did she seem to be as tough as any man, but she had me believing that she probably was mean to small animals and children. That’s proof as to how good she was at playing her character, because to those who knew Lillian Ellison well, she couldn’t have been any sweeter or friendlier. She was known to always call people “Darlin’” in her Southern drawl.

Moolah first won the women’s title in 1956 at the Baltimore Coliseum, and she supposedly held it until dropping the belt to Richter in 1984. In reality, her 28-year title reign is one of wrestling’s urban legends – like Andre The Giant’s undefeated streak – as Moolah actually lost and regained the belt several times during that span.

Officially, Moolah regained the title on three occasions. The first time, in 1985, she wrestled under a mask as The Spider Lady and was a participant in a double-cross of Richter. WWE had been having problems with Richter and wanted the belt off her, so Moolah maneuvered her into a pinning position and got the three count, which was not the finish Richter had been expecting. Moolah’s final title reign lasted eight days in 1999 when she was 76.

In addition to her exploits as a wrestler, Moolah also had a major impact on women’s wrestling in other roles. She not only booked the women’s circuit, but she also trained numerous women for the ring, including Richter and the late Sherri Martel.

My condolences go out to Moolah’s friends and family.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 1:51 AM | | Comments (12)
        

Comments

I have been watching Moolah since the early 60's. She was the greatest female wrestler ever. If she ever wrestled one of these bimbo's of today in her prime she would have killed them.

The movie Lipstick and Dynamite is about the early days of women's wrestling. Those ladies were awesome and wonderful, unlike the trampy "ladies" that you see on WWE today.

Another great article Kevin, i have been reading all of youre articles on wrestling for ages, way back to when you wrote for WCW Magazine and their website. It's great to hear a good tribute article to Moolah.

I remember Moolah back in the 80's when she had the feud with Wendi Richter.

Thanks for the memories Moolah, you were more than Fabulous!

I recall working with Lillian in the 1970's. I did some of her bookings in the Great Lakes region of the USA.

She had a gret attitude and work ethic.

cant believe it. i mean only a couple of weeks ago i was readin her book in bookshop & got dodgy looks cus was so engrossed in it. another legend leaves us. R.I.P. Moolah, 1 of the funniest characters the WWE has ever had, who i remember from the 80's onwards.

I will miss her. She hasn't been out and about much, and she knew how to keep her private life private. She will be my all-time Lady Champ. God Bless, Tina

I remember watching Moolah with my dad. We'd have our bowls of ice cream and yell at the t.v. What a joy it was! Some may think it cheesy, but Moolah gave me some memorable moments in my childhood. I'll miss her energy in this life!

Watched her from the 60's with my grandfather. She was one of my all time great wrestlers. She will be missed. Please stop and say a quick prayer.

Back in the mid-eighties when regular house shows appeared in Salisbury, a card featured a 30 'man' battle royal. The last two wrestlers left in the ring were Rene Goulet and Moolah. She tossed him out of the ring and the Fabulous One got the victory.

Just learned of Moolahs passing. Very sad to hear. She will be in my thoughts and prayers.
She was a friend of my mother (Shirley Strimple) and they had wrestled together and maintained contact through the years. I had met Moolah on several occasions...and she was a very charming, funny gal.

hey nana...
all i have to say is i love you and miss you and thank you so much for help paying for my gymnastics, when i am in the olympics i know your goin to be right beside me and im always thinking of you... if it wasnot for you i wouldnot b where i am now.
I LOVE YOU NANA:)
love,
your "lil" champion!

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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