Interview - David Little Wolf

Interview: David Little Wolf, Entertainer: 25th May 2004


Media Man Australia interviews one of the all time greats of the entertainment world, David Little Wolf.

GT: What's your background?

DLW: 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.

It 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 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 25 mostly good years in radio.

GT: What is your family best known for?

DLW: 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 dancing.

GT: What makes a great performer?

DLW: God given talent, caring about the people who've paid to see you, and lots and lots of luck.

GT: What do you see being the relationship between pro wrestling and circuses?

DLW: I love this question. It's never been asked before. There is a'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 forget that.

GT: For those of us who don't know, what is your late dad best known for?

DLW: 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 time.

GT: What motivates you?

DLW: "The challenge"

GT: Tell us a few good tales from "the road".

DLW: 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.

GT: What do you most like and dislike about the wrestling business?

DLW: 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.

GT: What do you consider to be your career highlights?

DLW: Gosh.......there have been so few, it's hard to pick out one or two(laughing) Let's, 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.

GT: What are you best known for?

DLW: Surviving.

GT: Who put the "show" in show business?

DLW: It was guy named Shecky, way, way back in the day.

GT: Your thoughts on Vince McMahon?(Sr. & Jr.)

DLW: 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 !!!!

GT: What are your aims and ambitions?

DLW: 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.

AND, almost forgot one of the managers greatest services to his artist I'd be very good at it.

GT: Why must the show always go on?

DLW: Wow ! I thought I conducted a fair interview, and asked decent questions, but you've got me beat all to hell.

The 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.

GT: 10 years from now, what else would you like to achieve?

DLW: I'd like to have another kid.

GT: Did you go to any Australian schools?

DLW: 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 !!

DLW: Greg, it's time for my nap now.

GT: David, you spent a great deal of time in Australia. What effect did that have on you, being an American?

DLW: 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?" 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.

GT: "YOU" came home? Just you ?

DLW: 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. 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 it.

Fast 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.

GT: What are your feeling about Australia now?

DLW: 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.

GT: Do you harbor any bad feelings for you Mom or Dad?

DLW: 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 ever was.

Editor...David also writes...

I had some thoughts about Aussie talent.

Errol Flynn
"Chips" Rafferty
Charles "Bud" Tingwell
Michael Pate
Ron Randall
Frank Thring
Rod Taylor

The 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.

Editors 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 way.

Big Chief Little Wolf



Chief Little Wolf


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