Marti Funk's Friend - Andre the
Giant - Traveling in Japan
Remembering a Wonderful Man
Andre the Giant - By Marti Funk
During our many trips to Japan, Andre the Giant, my husband Dory Funk Jr., and I were the only Gaijins (foreigners) to ride on the Japanese wrestlers’ bus. We spent many hours together.
Andre always called people he cared about “Boss,” but the real boss was Andre. Andre was totally unforgettable since 1981, the big guy was a bud of mine based on the fact that I was sleeping with his friend, Dory Funk Jr.
Andre always made me feel cared for, and he thought the Funk boys were a decent bunch and a lot of fun. Fun was always the object with Andre whenever the three of us would meet. He was always the same, having dinner, telling stories, laughing and drinking.
He spoke five languages, but preferred English or French. He especially loved English movies. In the bus in Japan, movies on the VCR were the entertainment. Only when The Boss was on the bus did we get English movies. One of Andre’s favorites was a video of his knee operation. It was quite a ghastly ordeal to watch, which used to just tickle him to no end when big, tough Japanese wrestlers would get sick from viewing it.
I remember when he had a whole new wardrobe, completely handmade by the finest Japanese tailors – French collars, French cuffs, the most expensive silk delivered to him on one of my many bus rides. I remember when he had shoes handmade, and the cost was an unbelievable US $1,500. He was very proud of them.
Andre could never sleep on the bus rides, but he could definitely drink his beloved Beaujolais wine. Ah, there were so many thoughts shared while drinking French wine on the bus in Japan. Sometimes our conversations were deep, about family life or the lack thereof. I once asked him if he had any kids, and it was the saddest look I had ever seen on his face. Andre looked out the window and answered, “Yes.” When I asked if it was a boy or girl, he didn’t answer. There were no tears in his eyes, but his sad face showed the tears in his heart.
I’ve had dinner at Andre’s house and played with his dogs and was treated like royalty by Frenchy Martin, his right hand guy, and Frenchy’s lovely wife, Jackie. Andre’s house was as unique as he was, a custom built two story house in Rockingham, N.C. Andre’s bedroom was upstairs. It was so French of him to have a large custom made circular bed! A huge tree grew straight from ground level to the sky, through the roof! Jackie and Frenchy took care of the five Rhodeasian Ridge Back dogs. This huge, 50-acre, Southern home had 50 of the most majestic looking beasts – Texas Longhorns! Andre felt blessed to have so much beauty to call home.
Andre loved the one who saw him no different than others. He needed reassurance from his friends that he was just a regular guy except, of course he did know how good he was at entertaining people and he always needed someone to talk to. He loved chocolate, salt, rich food and a lot of “good cheer” beverages in between.
Andre was very proud of his relationship with the wrestlers and most promoters. He took great pride in his friendly business dealings with Antonio Inoki, Giant Baba and Vince McMahon Sr. and Jr. He thought Jim Crockett Jr. was OK except for the time he pissed off Andre over a $2 parking ticket in Columbia South Carolina. Can you imagine? They wanted to charge Andre two bucks to park his pickup truck backstage! Dory and Crockett were in Japan. J. C. called the office to see how the show went with Andre. Andre was charged two bucks to park backstage. Frenchy paid (he was driving). Andre walked into the arena, walked around the ring, walked in the back, collected Frenchy and said, “Let’s go Boss! and they left. Jim Crockett Jr. flipped! To the fans it appeared that Andre was a no show and really pissed off everyone in the office! Too crazy eh? Andre laughed every time he told the story.
Andre’s favorite wrestler and competitor was Terry “Hollywood” Hogan. He was so proud of what they had accomplished together. I saw Hogan’s picture in the news at Andre’s funeral, and that was so meaningful. Andre would be very happy to know that Hogan was there to wish him Godspeed!
Andre had been in the planning stages of a new movie produced by Shelly Duvall, “Jack and the Bean Stalk.” Andre had believed this movie would enhance his film career. I guess that besides wrestling, acting was his next love.
He was proud about the acclaim he received for his work in “The Princess Bride” and wanted to continue to pursue his movie career. Andre felt very much at home in the film business. He found acceptance like he had in wrestling, from his peers and fans. Andre told us over and over, “I will always work. I love to work, to travel, to entertain, that’s my life, you know, and I love it.”
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