February of 1969, I was 17 years old and working as a model at Bab's dress shop in the Hilton Hotel on Miami Beach, aspiring to be an actress. I had worked a few small parts and had met many of the stars including, Jackie Gleason, George Hamilton and Frank Sinatra Jr. They were all very nice and always treated me with respect.
I had the honor of meeting Jack Benny. I told him that I enjoyed his show on TV very much and had been a fan of his since I was a little girl. He asked me to join him for coffee in the restaurant. I did and we talked about the people he had helped get into show business. He said he gave breaks to Giselle McKinzie, Carol Burnett, and Ann Margeret. Mr. Benny asked if I could join him in his room after work and said that he might be able to be of some help to me in my show business career.
At 5:00pm I on the way up to his room. I felt strange, but I was impressed and thought, "what an honor to have Jack Benny to help me further my career."
The butler showed me the way to the coffee table and seated me on the couch beside it. (It was not Rochester) Mr. Benny came in and set down on the couch beside me. The next thing I knew, I was being kissed on the lips in a wet and sloppy way, then Jack Benny unzipped his pants and asked me if I would, "Kiss it."
I was embarassed. I believed that he wanted to help me further my career. I jumped up from the couch and ran for the door. I remembed seeing the Butler and saying, "Sir I am very sorry."
Just yesterday we received a package in the mail from Terry Funk's wife. Inside the package was a message that read, "Dear Dunk- Meant to give you these at Christmas but forgot- I have duplicates-" Vicki. Inside were many pictures of Dory and Terry in their early years of wrestling and a clipping from the Amarillo Daily News dated, Thursday Morning, September 11, 1969.
Story by Jim Richardson (Special to the Amarillo Daily News)
HONOLULU, Hawaii - Jack Benny fiddled and Shani Wallis warbled for 2,500 Islanders last Wednesday at the Honolulu International Center Concert Hall, but it wasn't the biggest show in town than night. A few steps away in the Honolulu International Center Arena a guy with that All American look was cheered on by 8,500 souls who crave something with a little more than tap dancing.
The real show-stopper was Dory Funk Jr., wrestling's no 1 hero from the Panhandle of Texas. The fair haired Goliath from Amarillo successfully defended his National Wrestling Alliance world heavyweight title against Hawaiian champion Curtis "Bull" Iaukea.
I put the clipping aside and thought, Only six months later, Jack Benny played, "Second Fiddle," to my future love, Dory Funk Jr. "Some times you have to wait a long time, but vindication can be sweet."
The rest of the story
The screaming thousands warmed up early as Bad Guy Bull pulled off his usual underhanded fanatics and was punished by losing the first fall to Dory, The place went berserk with approval and you got the feeling that maybe they ought to move Bull to another state to make him feel at home. It just so happened that Mr. Iaukea got revenge within the next half hour by dazing Dory with a series of sleeper holds and eye gouges and aided a quick three-count by climbing on the ropes at the corner and toppling down on his unfortunate victim. The third fall never came. Dory, streaming sweat under the intense spotlights in the middle of the massive arena, tossed Iaukea out of the ring and the crowd - by now nearly incited to riot - chanted the numbers hoping the 20 count would get Bull beyond the ropes.
He made it back at 18 but neither had enough left to make the kill. The time ran out and the match was declared a draw. Bull didn't lose face by a defeat in Hawaii and Dory didn't lose his championship and coveted title belt. Whoever said professional wrestling was unjust?
Later at the Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki, Dory shot some straight lines about his career in the mats.
"Whether or not people want to admit it, they like violence. With all of our technological advances a lot of natural violence has been programmed out of our lives. So people pay to watch it.
That's exactly why pro wrestling in the United States packs in full houses one night each week. I've wrestled before bigger crowds than the one at the H.I.C. last night. The ones at St. Louis are tremendous."
The big Texas had another point to score about that.
"Look at pro football. For all practical purposes, pro football has replaced baseball as our national pastime." he said. "Why? Because of the hard contact, the violence that you see in pro football. If you knew, for instance, that your boss at the paper was going to get it on with another employee, would you want to be there when it happened?
"you bet your sweet life you would. And if they scheduled it and sold tickets to it, you'd buy a ticket. You would pay to see violence."
Wrestling, he said is the same bale of hay. You have the good guys and the bad guys - all with distinct professional reputations. Dory, of course, is a good guy and has to wring his heart out to ward off the fiendish maneuvers of devils.
He has held the NWA world title since Feb. 11 when he dethroned Gene Kiniski one salty night at Tampa, Fla. The title has put Dory on the road more than ever before. But he likes the travel.
"This is a good thing for me. I've been from coast to coast. Three days ago I had a match in Memphis, Tenn. Here I am now in Hawaii. It'll be like that as long as I have the championship."
Which will be for how long?
"I'd like to keep the title for two years. I don't know if I can keep it that long, but I'm gonna try. The experience I'm getting right now will help me later on if I decide to try my hand in promotion."
When Dory Funk talks about the future in that sort of realistic vein, you realize he's not the image of buffoonery commonly associated with brutes in professional wrestling and despite his heavy schedule in the ring, he devotes a lot of thought to other things of life and sport. "Saturday, West Texas State is having its pre-season football press day," he declared, breaking a brief silence backgrounded by the sounds of the surf breaking against a coral reef 3,500 miles from Canyon and the home of the Buffaloes. "I'm going to be getting a version of the Buffalo letter jacket to wear in the ring to kind of spread the word about WT. I'm kind of excited about it and certainly look forward to being there Saturday as much as I'd like to stay in Hawaii a little longer."
The way Dory went about it, talking about Joe Kerbel and West Texas State and the Buffalo Bowl while listening to the surf on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific, it seemed to be the natural thing to do.
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