David Little Wolf, Entertainer: 25th
Man Australia interviews one of the all time greats
of the entertainment world, David Little Wolf.
What's your background?
That's a really tough one Greg. My life seems more
like fiction than truth. I was thrown into the "showbiz"
arena at age 10, when my mother and her husband Chief
Little Wolf, came and rescued me from my father and
step-mom. My sister had been with them for a year,
then the time was right to get me. That was 1949.
was'nt too long before we were all in Australia together,
and I suddenly found myself in the family business.....ENTERTAINMENT.
My first very bad attempt was to sing an old Gene
Autrey song before a full house at the Melbourne stadium.....talk
about a baptism of fire !!! It led to working in my
dad's show on the Royal Show circuit, and as a performer
in Ashton's Circus, some stage work, a little tv,
motion pictures, and my love..radio. 25 mostly good
years in radio.
What is your family best known for?
Well, I think that Chief Little Wolf needs no introduction
to Aussies, however, you might find it interesting
that my mother was a wonderful "songstress".
The lady could sing. Her main thing was taking care
of the Chief, but she got plenty of opportunities
to sing. She worked with Max Reddy & Stella Lamond(Helen
Reddy, and Toni Lamond's parents) on national radio
shows, and many other venues. She was also the ringmaster
and compere in the circus. She and my sister, Helen,
also did demonstrations of authentic Hawaiian hula
What makes a great performer?
God given talent, caring about the people who've paid
to see you, and lots and lots of luck.
What do you see being the relationship between pro
wrestling and circuses?
I love this question. It's never been asked before.
There is a relationship.........it's not incestous.
Both groups of people work very hard to be the best
at what they do. Pro wrestlers are entertainers, as
are circus folk. Both groups are constantly on the
move from town to town. Although wrestlers are bigger
and stronger than ever, the are'nt the fine tuned
machines that circus performers are. Sorry about that,
but there you are. Having said that.......the great
wrestlers are sure fun to watch. Even though wrestlng
came out of the closet, so to speak, and everbody
knows that the outcome of a match is pre-determined,
the great wrestlers are so good, that you quickly
For those of us who don't know, what is your late
dad best known for?
I hope it's for his deep love for Australia, and for
everyday Australians. He had the ability to "connect"
with whomever he was talking to. From the PM, all
the way down to a ditch digger, he could communicate.
When we toured, it was'nt all about pounds, shillings,
and pence. He really wanted to meet those thousands
of country folk who had heard his matches on their
wireless's, but had never had the chance to see him
and meet him. It was incredible ! Around 250 towns
I think. OH ! And the "Indian Death Lock".
He was also one of the great self-promotors of all
What motivates you?
Tell us a few good tales from "the road".
My dad was a bloody great story teller, I'm afraid
I rank as mediocre, but here goes; I can't remember
the name of the town, or the restraunt. It was run
by a Greek gentleman, and we knew we were going to
get a good feed. He had a cute waitress working for
him, probably his daughter. Anyway, she kept staring
at the Chief's cauliflower ears. After a few minutes,
he asked her over to the table, and asked her if she'd
like to feel one of his ears. Very timidly she slowly
reached out her hand to touch the ear. Just as she
touched the ear, Chief let out a huge roar !!! The
poor child passed right out ! When she came to, he
apoligised, and gave her a fiver, and a free ticket
to the show. There must be a zillion stories of Chief
going to the local pub for a brewski or two....................DOZEN
! then throwing his money away.
All true, by the way.
What do you most like and dislike about the wrestling
Another great question Greg. I'm appalled by the high
death rate of wrestlers who are still quite young.
They're dropping like flies from heart attacks, suicide,
murder, and, as always, car wrecks. I love watching
these huge men flying through the air. Sometimes I
think they're more acrobats than wrestlers.
What do you consider to be your career highlights?
Gosh.......there have been so few, it's hard to pick
out one or two(laughing) Let's see..............no,
not that one.......................maybe it was......nope.
Give me some time here. WRR, Dallas, Texas. I was
the overnight guy, and doing ok. I was getting a lot
of media attention for my wackyness. I went to my
bosses with a proposal: let me write, produce, direct,
and act with an ensemble group of actors, a series
of one hour radio dramas. They gave me a slot on Sunday
afternoon that was'nt bringing any revenue, and away
I went. The shows were very well recieved, and I was
very proud of those shows. Ten weeks as Nicely-Nicely
Johnson, in Guys and Dolls. I wanted that part ever
since I was a kid. I knew I was born to play it.
What are you best known for?
Who put the "show" in show business?
It was guy named Shecky, way, way back in the day.
Your thoughts on Vince McMahon?(Sr. & Jr.)
I try my hardest NOT to think about them. Seriously,,,,,Sr.
was a great promoter, but nobody ever put it all together
like Jr. Like him or not. MONEY !!!!
What are your aims and ambitions?
Ahhhhhh, here comes the good stuff! I thought you'd
never ask ! I want to be a personal manager. Someone
with all the showbiz stuff I carry around in my head?
I would like to find a young and talented artist,
and mold his or her career the way it used to be.
A real manager does'nt sit behind a big desk in a
plush office, overlooking the bay, waiting for the
frigging phone to ring. He's with his artist, nurturing,
teaching, pushing for briliance. Artists are born.......not
made. I've always believed that you can't put in what
God left out. So, for me, it's up to the manager to
find and bring out the talent that his artist already
has inside them.
almost forgot one of the managers greatest services
to his artist is........protection. I'd be very good
Why must the show always go on?
Wow ! I thought I conducted a fair interview, and
asked decent questions, but you've got me beat all
show always goes on because of the deep respect of
the showman for the audience who've paid their hard
earned money to see the show. I don't know how to
explain it any better than that.
10 years from now, what else would you like to achieve?
I'd like to have another kid.
Did you go to any Australian schools?
Yes. Parramatta for awhile, then on to Xavier College
in Melbourne, where I was a border. Can you imagine
the strain that put on me ? The family is out there
doing the entertainment thing, and I'm stuck in Catholic
Bording School. It was'nt that bad, I guess. They
had the best pies, pasties and sausage rolls in Australia
Greg, it's time for my nap now.
David, you spent a great deal of time in Australia.
What effect did that have on you, being an American?
My first time in Oz, I went into culture shock ! It
all seemed so alien. I did'nt understand what people
were saying to me. I was constantly saying "I
beg your pardon?" But...........it did'nt take
too long before I got into the rhythm of the way Aussies
speak. Pretty soon I became an "Australican".
Food was another strange thing. My Dad and my Mom
both had pretty sophisticated palates, so we spent
a lot of time in ethnic restaurants. Mostly Chinese
and Italian. Also, a couple of times a year, the family
back in the states would send us a "care"
package. About the size of a tea crate. It would have
all of our favorite southwestern(Mexican) goodies.
Pinto beans, Gebhardts chili powder, canned corn tortillas.......stuff
like that. Things we just could'nt get get in Oz.
Those food items were a staple in Chief's society,
and he had to have them. Good thing we loved them
too. It did'nt take me too long to appreciate the
traditional Sunday leg of lamb, and snags for breakfast.
I have'nt had any decent lamb since I've been back
home. I came home in 1962.
"YOU" came home? Just you ?
Yep, just me. Very few people know what I'm about
to tell you. My Mom and Dad seperated around '55.
My Mother was very ill, and left Oz for Hawaii. My
sister followed later that year, right around her
19th birthday. Things got real blurry for me. I was
so god damned conflicted, I did'nt know what was up.
A few weeks later, Chief got real drunk, and got in
my face pretty bad, and kicked me out !! He also warned
all his friends that if I came asking for help, to
say no. So........here I am, 15 years old, on my own
in a foreign country, no passport, no nothing ! I
had no preparation to survive the streets, so I went
into full survival mode. I became a taker instead
of a giver. Had it not been for the kindness of selfless
people in Sydney and Melbourne, I would'nt have made
forward to 1962. My grandmother passed away and left
me a little money, which I used to get me back to
the states, and a new start.
What are your feeling about Australia now?
Australia is a world class nation. I hope that all
Aussies are as proud of her as I am. I've always felt
Oz is as much my home as is the USA. I hope that all
Aussies embrace heritage and national pride. Australia
is NOT another USA, as some people say. Australia
is unique unto herself.....I hope it never changes.
Most of my "firsts" occured in Oz. 1st love,
1st adult beverage, 1st car, 1st................let's
let that 1st slide.
Do you harbor any bad feelings for you Mom or Dad?
Nope. I thought I hated Chief, but that soon gave
way to some different thinking. He did so much for
me, and after a lot of soul searching, the reality
of just how much I loved him was like a bolt of lightning.
He was more of a father to me than my birth father
had some thoughts about Aussie talent.
Charles "Bud" Tingwell
above guys were the "pioneers" Of that bunch,
Rod Taylor was the first modern Aussie superstar.
Of course, there will never be another Flynn. The
other actors made the movies they were in better,
because they were in them. Now we have a new batch
of great Australian actors, tearing up the movie world
with their talent, and that undefined "something"
that no one else has. Mel, Hugh, Geoffrey, many more.
How about the opening ceremony of the games of Sydney?
Little Nikki Webster had me in tears. Unbelievable!
Graham Kennedy............need I say more ? Bert Newton.
Little River Band, AC/DC, INXS, more. Australia is
a hotbed of world-class talent. Did I hear how about
Aussie sports stars. Again, world class, world beaters.
note: Wow, how about that! One of the most interesting
and open interviews we have ever conducted. A true
showman, businessman, and a real class act all the
Chief Little Wolf
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