Wally George

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Wally George
Born George Walter Pearch
(1931-12-04)December 4, 1931
Oakland, California
Died October 5, 2003(2003-10-05) (aged 71)
Fountain Valley, California
Occupation Talk show host, Radio commentator
Years active 1946–2003

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 was a fixture on Southern California television for three decades as the host of Hot Seat, which began as a local show on a UHF TV station in Anaheim, Orange County, California in 1983.[1]

Early life[edit]

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.

Career[edit]

By age 14, George was working as a disk-jockey at AM radio station KIEV in Glendale, California, followed by work at other local stations. In 1965 he was credited with writing an episode of the long-running television series Bonanza.[2] 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, the former mayor of Los Angeles. By 1979 George had his own talk show at KCOP, and when it moved to fledgling UHF station KDOC in Anaheim, he launched Hot Seat in 1983.[3]

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 U.S. space shuttle, both with strong links to Orange County, California, where the episodes were taped. He staunchly supported then-president Ronald Reagan, and his show was sponsored mostly by local Orange County businesses. George's gray slacks, navy blue blazer, white dress shirt and U.S. flag tie along with his straight platinum blond, ear-length, side-parted hair became a conservative style trademark. He called his delivery "combat TV," a phrase he used in his 1999 autobiography, and Johnny Carson labeled George "the William F. Buckley of the cockfighting set."

Hot Seat, in turn, became known for its provocative guest appearances. A 1983 appearance by Blase Bonpane[4] ended when Bonpane overturned George's desk and walked out of the studio. When similar incidents occurred on later talk shows, such as those hosted by Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer, George called them "copycat combat". However, many claimed that the stunts on Hot Seat were staged, and that some guests were hired to be controversial and disruptive.

By 1993, George's health woes brought an end to the show. He carried on hosting rerun segments until June 2003.

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.

George played himself in the films 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 1989-90 and later on the Nintendo Entertainment System game of the same name. He also 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.

Personal life[edit]

George was married at least six times and had at least six children. 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 produced actress Rebecca De Mornay. In 1992, George threatened to sue De Mornay for calling him a bigamist in The National Enquirer.[5]

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.

He was a longtime Garden Grove, California resident. In later life, George lived in Sherman Oaks, California.

Death[edit]

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, where he was eulogized by evangelist Robert H. Schuller. He is interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California.

References[edit]

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