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By Mike Johnson on 2022-01-08 09:31:00 is saddened to report the passing of former GLOW star Deanna Booher, best known as Matilda the Hun and Queen Kong during her time with the David McLane 80s women’s promotion.  Booher was 73 at the time of her passing and had been dealing with a number of health issues in recent years that had led to her being hospitalized for a long period of time.  There is no word as of this writing as to the cause of her death.

A native of California, standing at 6’3 and billed at 315 lbs., Booher was the definitive larger than life villain for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, appearing across all the seasons of the show as the leader of the bad girls and the foil for babyface powerhouse Mt. Fiji, the late Emily Doyle.

Prior to getting involved with professional wrestling, Booher actually wrestled collegiately for El Camino Junior College in the Golden State.  

“The grappling grabbed my mind and body,"  Booher wrote on her website  “I decided to enroll in the beginning class. At first I was laughed at and the coach told me a woman did not belong in that class. I threatened to report him to the ERA. He reluctantly let me join. After a few months I started to show great promise. I started running and lifting weights, and practiced countless drills. Then one day, I pinned the wrestling captain. Then all the boys became afraid of me. Often they would lose because my boob in their face would throw them totally off guard, or a very embarrassing bulge in their shorts would arise after an illegal crotch hold. I started winning matches by default.”

As she recounted in her autobiography, Booher found her way into professional wrestling in a very different way, initially working in the adult industry making wrestling fetish videos and operating an adult telephone company with her husband.     Wanting to be as fit as possible, she landed at Gene LeBell’s dojo in Los Angeles, training in Judo. 

She later broke into professional wrestling after meeting with then-booker Tom Renesto at the Olympic Auditorium.  She began training and actually wrestled  a live bear in one of her first-ever matches and loved the performing aspect while being disgusted by salacious promoters who assumed her bookings came with additional "favors."

Booher floated back and forth between pro wrestling and her other adult activities, noting that allowed her not to become trapped and needing to depend on the wrestling world like other women.  She turned down overtures to join The Fabulous Moolah’s troupe after being told she would need to leave her family in California and move full-time to South Carolina to live on Moolah’s camp.

“...the whole wrestling experience was much like the city of ancient Babylon madness,” Booher wrote in her 2013 autobiography.  “Lots of temptations, perversions with tyrannical and greedy promoters.  And the whole scene seemed very corrupt.”

At the same time, Booher began promoting and competing in her own mud wrestling events as Queen Kong, which led to invitations to compete in roller derby events and different film and TV roles with Booher earning her Screen Actors Guild union card.

Then came GLOW, The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.  Booher came across an ad for auditions for the series and met with Director Matt Cimber.  In her autobiography, Booher wrote about being very involved in the development of the series, pushing for different elements that would make it different from traditional pro wrestling at the time and even writing the music for the GLOW series.

Booher noted that they “kept waiting, going in circles” until David McLane, who had a similar idea, was holding open tryouts for his own series eventually connected with Cimber and investment money in hand, GLOW was born.  Booher stated in her autobiography that Cimber was the one who pushed McLane to hire her and Doyle, wanting to have unusual characters as well as McLane’s vision for “wrestling beauties.”

On the importance of GLOW, Booher once wrote on her website, “We gave the world a gorgeous new image for real women to embody the feminine mystique, with true athletic talent and grace in sports entertainment.  Our show was the predecessor of many shows including “XENA Warrior Princess” (1995 – 2001).  It was a brave new world of women warriors in the media and the consciousness of female power expanded everywhere in the world.  Our story is superbly delivered in the documentary “GLOW:  The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” a truth of love and body slams, made for millions of very loyal and special fans from both then and now with a new generation devouring our shows on youtube, the internet and beyond.”

The first GLOW pilot was headlined by Tammy Jones defeating Matilda the Hun to become the first person to wear the GLOW Crown.    The show was a hit at the NATPE convention, which is where all the major syndication for television was done at the time, and was broadcast in 30 markets across the country, often before or after WWF programming on the same station.  As Matilda, she was THE villain of the series.

The series became super popular at the time, filmed out of the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas with the women working all week to put and prepare their matches, then tape at the end of the week.  As the series’ popularity skyrocketed, Booher stated in her autobiography that often, the performers would receive film, TV  and commercial offers, only to have the series’ distributor INI deflect or turn down the offers.  Booher claimed she missed out on a “million dollar” beer commercial offer at the time.

When McLane and others split from the GLOW project after the second season.  Booher went with him for the creation of POWW - Powerful Women of Wrestling, which operated out of McLane’s native Indianapolis, taping there as well as Chicago and Hammond, Indiana.    The group, which also featured names like Wendi Richter and Candi Devine, went as far as to tour live events, including The Felt Forum (now Hulu Theater) in Madison Square Garden and the Nassau Coliseum in New York.  When the tour bombed financially, Booher was asked to take a pay cut by producer Brad Krasner, refused, got her money and never worked for the group again.

Meanwhile, GLOW shuttered abruptly after season four when the investor, Riviera Hotel owner Meshulam Riklis out of nowhere cut the funding - stories regarding that claim everything from Riklis learning the show was being syndicated internationally behind his back to his wife demanding the show end because he had his own alleged daliances with performers on the series.  With no GLOW to potentially return to and not seeking to pursue traditional professional wrestling full-time, Booher moved on.

After her pro wrestling career, Booher used the GLOW notoriety to score a  number of acting roles, including Married…with Children, Mama’s Family, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Night Court and the films Brainsmasher: A Love Story and Spaceballs, among many other film and TV projects.  She also appeared in the Aerosmith “Love in An Elevator” music video.  

Booher also was involved in stunt work as well as performing singing telegrams after her pro wrestling run, recounting stories of delivering “Slam-O-Grams” to actors Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone in her autobiography.  

Booher began dealing with a series of physical and health issues after being caught in the middle of a five car wreck, leading to bad whiplash after three cars struck behind the car she was riding in, hitting her in rapid succession.  She was left with bulging discs in her neck and back and felt that had she not been an avid swimmer her entire life, things would have been entirely worse.  Still, Booher dealt with the degeneration of the discs in her back and neck for the rest of her life.  In 2001, her feet went completely numb and doctors were unable to figure out the cause.  This led to Booher using an electric wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Booher took part in the excellent 2012 GLOW documentary, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and in 2013, self-published her autobiography Glamazon Queen Kong - My Life of Glitter, Guts & Glory, which is an excellent, interesting read.  The book can still be ordered via Amazon at this link. extends our deepest sympathies to the family, friends and fans of Deann Booher.

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