The First Lady of Professional Wrestling, Lillian Ellison...known worldwide as the Fabulous Moolah, has passed away at the age of 84. Though she wrestled primarily as a heel, I'm glad to have found a picture of her with a smile on her face...because that's how I'll always remember Moolah. Lauren and I were attending one of the early "In Your House" pay-per-views in Florence, SC back in 1996 when I had the pleasure of briefly meeting the greatest female pro-wrestler of all time. Lauren had taken her seat and I was wandering the concourse in search of a good-looking Undertaker shirt. I spotted Moolah holding court with about a half-dozen fans near a pay phone. I wandered over and nervously awaited my chance to say hello. I don't meet new people very well...and, celebrities? Forget it. So I probably said something insipid and totally mark-ish...but I'm sure that I tried to convey that I was a fan from way back, not someone who only knew her from her recent WWE (then WWF) return to prominence.
Let me tell you...The freaking Fabulous Moolah hugged my neck and loved on me like a long-lost grandbaby. And she had the same big hug and "Bless your heart, darlin' " for everyone who approached her. She graciously signed autograph after autograph and posed for pictures until she finally begged off, explaining that she needed to be in her seat so she could be introduced to the crowd as part of the pre-show festivities. When the show finally did start, longtime WWF/WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel did his thing, introducing Moolah as one of the "dignitaries" in the crowd. She stood up, glowering and shaking her fist at the cheering crowd...and then busted back into that radiant smile you see in the picture.
Rest easy, Moolah...and thanks for that minute of your time. I'll never forget it.
(Fabulous Moolah pic courtesy of WWE.com)