||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010)|
|Born||George Walter Pearch
December 4, 1931
|Died||October 5, 2003
Fountain Valley, California
|Occupation||Talk show host, Radio commentator|
Wally George, born George Walter Pearch (December 4, 1931 – October 5, 2003), was an American conservative radio and television commentator. Calling himself the "Father of Combat TV" he gained national fame hosting the television talk show Hot Seat, which began in 1983 as a local show produced for KDOC, a UHF TV station in Anaheim, Orange County, California.
Born George Walter Pearch in Oakland, California, his father Walter Pearch worked in the marine shipping industry. His mother Eugenia Clinchard had been a vaudeville performer and child movie actress in Essanay Studios westerns starring Broncho Billy Anderson. George grew up in San Mateo and was in high school when his parents divorced, after which his mother moved to the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.
At age 14 George was a disk-jockey at AM radio station KIEV in Glendale, California, followed by work at other radio stations in the state. In 1965 he was credited with writing an episode of the long-running television series Bonanza. In 1969 he launched The Wally George Show on FM radio station KTYM in Inglewood, California. Three years later he became producer and co-host of The Sam Yorty Show on Los Angeles television station KCOP with his political mentor Sam Yorty, who had been mayor of Los Angeles. By 1979 George had his own talk show at KCOP. This show later moved to KDOC in Anaheim where he launched Hot Seat in 1983. At this time KDOC had been on the air for a year and one of its early investors was singer Pat Boone.
Wally George was famous for his combative, almost farcical interview style and shocking antics on Hot Seat. He played to an eager studio audience and often ejected guests from the set, using uniformed private security guards. Hanging behind him were pictures of John Wayne and the US space shuttle, both with strong links to Orange County, California where the episodes were taped. He staunchly supported then-US president Ronald Reagan on the show, which became a popular hit in Southern California and was mostly sponsored by many local Orange County businesses for whom George often made personal appearances. George's gray slacks, navy blue blazer, white dress shirt and US flag tie along with his straight platinum blond, ear-length, side-parted hair became a kind of trademark in the Los Angeles area.
A 1983 appearance by Blase Bonpane ended when Bonpane overturned the host's desk onto George and walked out of the studio. Clips of this were shown on national news broadcasts. When such incidents happened on later talk shows (as with those hosted by Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer) George called these "copycat combat". However there were many claims of staged stunts on Hot Seat and that some guests were actors hired to play controversial and disruptive roles. George released a four track 12" (30 cm) EP entitled Wal-ly! Wal-ly! (drawn from the rallying cry of his Hot Seat studio audience) on Rhino Records in 1984.
By 1993 George's health woes brought an end to the production of Hot Seat episodes. He carried on hosting rerun segments for another ten years, until June 2003.
Wally George appeared in five motion pictures, playing himself in Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), Repossessed (1990) and Club Fed (1990). He played a Porsche salesman in the movie Squanderers (1996).
He gave halftime "studio analysis" and sometimes "endgame news" on the roller derby television program RollerGames which aired in the 1989-1990 season and later on the Nintendo Entertainment System game of the same name. George appeared on The People's Court program after being sued by an attorney who had been on Hot Seat. E! True Hollywood Story ran a feature on Wally George in 2000.
George was married at least six times. His first marriage was to Lillian Kamminga in 1954. They had a daughter and son, Debtralynne Salas and Walter George Pearch Jr. His 1959 marriage to Jane Eager brought forth their daughter Rebecca De Mornay who became an actress. In 1962 he married Mary Jo Teipl and they had a son, Kerry Walter George. He married Linda Yvonne Lowell in 1969 and they had a daughter, Kimberley Jennifer. In 1988 George married Janise Hedges and they had a daughter, Holly Janise George, his sixth child.
Following years of worsening health George died of pneumonia at Fountain Valley Hospital on October 5, 2003. His memorial service was held at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, given by evangelist Robert H. Schuller with over 100 mourners. He was interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California.
- Los Angeles Times
- Wally George at the Internet Movie Database, retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Obituary "Wally George, 71; Firebrand Host Made Insult TV a Hit With Orange County Show" Los Angeles Times