Rollen Stewart

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Rollen Frederick Stewart (born February 23, 1944), also known as Rock 'n' Rollen and Rainbow Man, was a fixture in American sports culture best known for wearing a rainbow-colored afro-style wig and, later, holding up signs reading "John 3:16" at stadium sporting events around the United States and overseas in the 1970s and 1980s.[1]

Publicity[edit]

Apparently at first just in it for the publicity, Stewart became a born-again Christian determined to "get the message out" via television. His first major appearance was at the 1977 NBA Finals; by the time of the 1979 MLB All-Star Game, broadcasters actively tried to avoid showing him.[2] He "appeared behind NFL goal posts, near Olympic medal stands, and even at the Augusta National Golf Club." At the 1982 Indianapolis 500, he was behind the pits of race winner Gordon Johncock.[3] Stewart would strategically position himself for key shots of plays or athletes.[4] Stewart's fame led to a Budweiser beer commercial and a Saturday Night Live parody sketch,[4] where he was portrayed by Christopher Walken.[5]

Stewart was briefly jailed by Moscow police at the 1980 Summer Olympics.[2] In the late 1980s, he began a string of stink bomb attacks. Targets included Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral, the Orange County Register, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and a Christian bookstore.[4] The stated intent of an attempted attack at the American Music Awards was to show the public that "God thinks this stinks."[6]

Arrest[edit]

Stewart was arrested in 1992 after a standoff in a California hotel during which he entered a vacant room with two men he was attempting to kidnap and surprised a maid who then locked herself in the bathroom. Reportedly, Stewart believed that the Rapture was due to arrive in six days.[7] During the standoff, he threatened to shoot at airplanes taking off from nearby Los Angeles International Airport, and covered the hotel room windows with "John 3:16" placards.[4]

Stewart is currently serving three consecutive life sentences in prison on kidnapping charges,[2] having rejected a plea deal of 12 years in order to spread his message in open court. After being sentenced, he began a religious tirade and had to be restrained by bailiffs.[8] He became eligible for parole in 2002, but was denied as recently as March 2010; his next parole review will be in 2017.[4][9] After this conviction, he was found guilty of four stink bomb attacks.[4]

Stewart ran a blog until the time of his parole denial.[10] He is the subject of the 1997 documentary Rainbow Man by Sam Green.

Personal life[edit]

He was married four times, most notably to Margaret Hockridge. The two met at a church in Virginia in 1984. They began traveling across the country together in 1985. While on the road, they married in St. Louis in 1986. However, the marriage was somewhat rocky, in part due to his violent mood swings. During the 1986 World Series, Hockridge said that Stewart tried to choke her for standing in the wrong spot with a John 3:16 sign. They divorced in 1990, but they kept in touch for many years.[7]

References[edit]

  • "End of the Rainbow" People Weekly. New York: Nov 30, 1992.Vol.38, Iss. 22; pg. 97 (703 word profile of Stewart)
  • "Rockin' Rollen, A Fan Only of God, Takes a Message to Every Game" Adelson, Suzanne. People Weekly. New York: Feb 1, 1988.Vol.29, Iss. 4; pg. 45
  • "Russians Meet Gate-Crasher" AP. New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Jul 22, 1980. pg. B.14 (226 word article on Stewart at Moscow Olympics)
  • "Sports World Specials; Resiliency Under the Rainbow No Relief in Sight Striking Out Give Her Credit Punching Doesn't Pay" Jim Benagh. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Aug 18, 1980. p. C2 (10 paragraphs about Stewart and his rainbow wig)
  • "Briefing" James F. Clarity & Warren Weaver Jr.. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Nov 27, 1985. p. B6 (4 paragraphs about Stewart, his wig, and his lawsuit for the right to hang his John 3:16 banner)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ What's with those "John 3:16" signs, The Straight Dope
  2. ^ a b c J. Michael Kenyon (July 6, 2001). "Real action in '79 was outside the lines". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2007-09-24.  Note: Article refers to 1984 Olympics, which were in Los Angeles, not Moscow.
  3. ^ 1982 Indianapolis 500 television broadcast, ABC Sports, May 30, 1982
  4. ^ a b c d e f "What he preached, he didn't practice". Colorado Springs Gazette. 2005-12-14. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  5. ^ "Season 15, Episode 11". SNL Transcripts. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  6. ^ Gorightly, Adam (1999). "Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Man", Kooks Museum. Retrieved on 2008-01-13
  7. ^ a b Rich, Katherine Russell. End of the Rainbow. People, 1992-11-30.
  8. ^ "Rollen Stewart: A Colorful Testimony". ESPN. 2004-07-23. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  9. ^ Emmerich, Gino (March 19, 2010). "Gino's News". John 3:16 Sign Ministry. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  10. ^ Jeff Gordon (2007-09-03). "Favorites for a fan's Hall of Fame". Fox Sports. Retrieved 2007-09-24. [dead link]

External links[edit]