Monday, September 8, 2014

MST3K Article Series: #2

A Tale O' The Tape on the professional boxers who found their way onto MST3K

Charles Francis Moran (The Corpse Vanishes)
Nickname: The Pittsburgh Dentist
Career Record: Won 39 (KOs 31), Lost 22, Drawn 6, Total 67
Born: March 18th, 1887 in Pittsburgh, PA
Died: December 14th, 1967 (80)
Height: 6' 1
Reach: 77 1/2 inches
Division: Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: 0-3

Frank Moran received his alias because he studied dentistry at the University of Pittsburgh (where he also played football for three years). After a stint playing professional football for the Pittsburgh Lyceums, Frank turned to Boxing

The man had a wicked right hook he named "Mary Ann" and he twice fought for the Heavyweight championship of the world - going a bruising 20 rounds in a loss to the great Jack Johnson in 1914. And dropping a 10 round decision with Jess Willard in 1916. (Click to view poster of newspaper article)

After losing a fight for the French boxing championship, Frank retired and became an actor. MSTies know him as the addle minded, woman pawing "Angel", in the Corpse Vanishes. He was also a favorite of Preston Sturges and had bit parts in many of his films in the 40's.

Johnny Indrisano (The Human Duplicators)
Career Record: Won 37 (KOs 2), Lost 9, Draw or ND 3, Total 49
Born: November 1st, 1906 (or 05) in Boston, Massachusetts
Died: July 6th, (or 9th) 1968
Height: 5' 8
Reach: ?
Division: Welterweight
Championship Bouts: None

Born Johnny Andrews Andressano, John fought from 1923 to 1934 and despite a solid career which saw him defeat champions like Lou Brouillard, (twice) Tommy Freeman and Jackie Fields, Indrisano was never given a shot at a title fight.

After retiring Johnny refereed some matches and worked in Hollywood as a consultant and actor in many films, including "Some Like It Hot" and "Guys and Dolls." MSTies know him as Thor, the doorman in The Human Duplicators (Seen in a memorable stinger as well).

Tragically, he committed suicide by hanging in his home in the Mount Olympus section of Los Angeles (some sources say on July 6th, his daughter's birthday), after a long battle with depression.

Primo Carnera (Hercules Unchained)
Nickname: The Ambling Alp
Career Record: Won 88 (71 KOs), Lost 15, ND 1, Total 104
Born: October 26, 1906, Sequals, Italy
Died: June 29, 1967, Sequals, Italy
Height: 6' 6
Reach: 85 1/2 inches
Division: Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: 3-1

Gigantic Primo Carnera put together an impressive record. Though it is felt that most of his fights were fixed. His manager was a mobster named Owney Madden (who stole much of Carnera's money and left him almost broke). Though the man he won the Championship from, Jack Sharkey, swore that he did not take a dive and it seems Primo was not aware of the situation if true.

Knocked down 11 times when he lost the belt to Max Baer, Carnera continued fighting and wrestling; and acted in several films. Including the "Prize Fighter and the Lady" and the MSTed, "Hercules Unchained" - In which he plays Antaeus, the laughing behemoth who Herc eventually has to pick up and throw into the sea to defeat.

Willie Pastrano (Wild Rebels)
Nickname: Willie the Wisp, Sweet P
Career Record: Won 63 (14 Kos), Lost 13, Draw 8, Total 84
Born: November 27th, 1935. New Orleans, LA
Died: December 6th, 1997 (62)
Height: 6' 0
Reach: ?
Division: Light Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: 3-1

Born Wilfred Raleigh Pastrano, Willie "the Wisp" had some of the best footwork this side of Ali (Who he sparred with) - a great champion who never liked to train and was known as a notorious party animal. At the urging of his friend, Steve Alaimo, Pastrano did some acting and MSTies know him as the high strung Banjo in "The Wild Rebels". That Alaimo bested him in a fight in the movie is about as funny and far fetched as the time Burt Wards "Robin" battled Bruce Lee's "Kato" to a draw.

Sadly, struggles with drugs plagued Sweet P after his boxing career was over. In 1988 he was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Joe Louis (Johnny at the Fair)
Nickname: The Bronx Bomber
Career Record: Won 69 (55 KOs), Lost 3, Draw 0, Total 72
Born: May 13th, 1914 in Lafayette, AL
Died: April 12th, 1981 (66)
Height: 6' 2
Reach: 76 inches
Division: Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: 25-1

Joseph Louis Barrow is one of boxings undisputed greats. A lightning fast, powerful puncher, Louis only lost 3 fights in his pro career - and 2 of those came to Ezzard Charles and Rocky Marciano after he unwisely came out of retirement.

Louis appeared in the MSTed short Johnny At The Fair in 1947, the same year he defended his title against "Jersey" Joe Walcott, in a hard fought 15 round decision. (Special thanks to "impr3ssion", for bringing this MST appearance to my attention)

Jack Palance (Outlaw, Angel's Revenge)
Boxing Name: Jack Brazzo
Career Record: Won 15 (12 KOs), Lost 1, Total 16
Born: February 18th, 1919 in Lattimer Mines, PA
Height: 6' 4
Reach: ?
Division: Heavyweight
Championship Bouts: None

Born Vladimir Palaniuk, Jack Palance not only has a boxers nose, but in fact was a professional fighter in the Late 1930's. Fighting under the name Jack Brazzo (not to be confused with the lightweight with the same name), Palance reportedly won 15 fights; though the only one I've been able to confirm was a 4th round losing decision to future heavyweight contender Joe Baksi on Dec. 17, 1940 in New York. Jack's career was cut short by the war and when he returned he turned to acting. In fact Palance won an Emmy in 1957 for playing a boxer in Rod Serlings classic, "Requiem For A Heavyweight".

Always a colorful tough guy, Palance can be seen as the evil wizard in Outlaw and the guy who worked for a drug kingpin in "Angel's Revenge".

Of Note: Reb Brown of "Space Mutiny" fame also did some boxing, But reports are conflicting on his record and whether he went pro or fought as an amateur.