Thursday, August 4, 2016

Toronto Programs 1930s-1980s

Collecting Toronto Wrestling programs can be a frustrating task. There are huge gaps where no programs were made, or at the least , none survived. We will take a look at the programs issued over the years.

The earliest one I have is 1930. You can see the whole program here Previous Blog Entry - 1930 Program Nice full program from the Mickailoff days, 14 pages with a photo on near every page, rules listing, and a line up card. price 10c

Next one is a 1935. The Wrestling content of that one is here Previous Blog Entry - 1935 Program This one has other sports content, hockey mostly but still has 6 pages of Wrestler bios, plus the event specific line up center spread. cost 15c

There are others through the late 1930's and early 1940's that follow the same format as above. Not all of the Wrestling nights had Wrestling on the cover either. There are examples with an Elephant (Circus) or figure skaters (Ice Capades) for events that were coming up that were the focus rather than the Wrestling card. Still those had the lineup spread in the middle and some other pages devoted to wrestlers.

The next change I can find is in the late 1940's. They went to a Maple Leaf Sports Magazine. Photo on the front with headliner or close for that night. About 50 pages covering all sports with several on the wrestlers and the 2 page center spread with the lineup sheet. cost 25c

1947 Example



Then there is a gap. I can't find any from the 1950's as of yet. Surprising as that era had a huge amount of coverage in print, the dailies had wrestling coverage nearly every day of the week. Once TV started it was bigger than ever. Sports writer Frank Ayerst started working for Frank Tunney and would later pen the programs and a column in the dailies but I have yet to find any 50's - gottem ? send em please!

 Next ones are the early 1960's. A shorter format but wrestling specific. A bi-fold with 2 pages of info, a lineup card and a blank page with a holder for an insert photo with one of the stars. Ayerst wrote a cover piece and then the page inside had a tidbits type column similar to his newspaper pieces, often with inside info or personal type stuff about the wrestlers. price 25c

This one is from '63

That type to at least 1965 and then a gap again.

The 1970's, huge cards when the Sheik was on top here, full houses and a revival in wrestling in Toronto - but no programs?

Have yet to see anything from the Sheik era, in fact the only 1970's program found so far is this 1977 glossy type put together by Stan Obodiac, the then Maple Leaf Gardens publicity head. Similar in feel to a Maple Leafs hockey program this one is 12 pages and while not event specific (no lineup card) it features the participants from the July 11 1977 card held at Exhibition Stadium. Also has a NWA title history  and a page on Whipper Watson and Lord Layton, long removed from the scene by this time. Contributors listed are Norm Kimber (Announcer & Frank's publicity guy at this time) son Eddie and nephew Jack. cost unknown.

Then another gap, a bit of unrest between the Sheik era and the M-A era but nothing in the 78-79 years and the beginning of the association with the Crockett stars.

My buddy Griff who makes me look like an amateur when it comes to hunting down MLW artifacts still has not found anything previous to Oct 19 1980 which is in the Stranglehold format. The Oct issue is listed as number 5 but unable to locate the earlier ones. Put together by Gary Kamansack under the Arena Magazine and Mancuso Publishing name. They were responsible for the Detroit area programs, also the fabulous Wrestling Exchange magazine, as well as programs for George Cannon's Superstars. Slick feel with good (mostly) local photos and a card specific lineup sheet. think these were 75c maybe 1$

This one Nov 16 1980 

A bit of a gap through the end of 1980 and then starting in early 1981 and regular to the end of the NWA era in mid 1984. Appears Mancuso and Arena pulled out in 1981, the format stayed mostly the same although the look started to go downhill and wasn't as good, cutout photos and such like the one below from 1983. Still with card specific lineup. cost 1$ still I think

When Jack Tunney switched to using the WWF stars they kept the Stranglehold format for a time as the one below shows. Thats where I stop but they did switch to the WWF magazine some time after, a generic type with an inserted lineup sheet


If you can supply a pic from any of the years that have gaps please send over. If you have programs for sale please contact me  !