Rowdy Roddy Piper has fond memories of his old hometown -- even if he did only call Winnipeg for a few years during his wayward youth." />

 

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   Fri, March 3, 2006



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Winnipeg still has a hold on Piper
Hot Rod to host comedy fest
By PAT ST. GERMAIN - Winnipeg Sun


Rowdy Roddy Piper is proud to be a Winnipegger.

Wrestler, actor and skirt-wearin' tough guy Rowdy Roddy Piper has fond memories of his old hometown -- even if he did only call Winnipeg for a few years during his wayward youth.

"They were probably the most influential couple of years of my life," the 51-year-old WWE Hall of Famer says.

"I kinda got lost and in Winnipeg I got found. So for me, I think of Winnipeg as my hometown."

More than 30 years after he left, Piper rolls back into River City to host My Hometown International, a CBC Comedy Festival gala show taping April 5 at Pantages Playhouse Theatre.

"Just be invited ... to be there on a 90-minute special, I'm thrilled to death," he says over the phone from his mountainside ranch near Portland, Ore.

If he sounds humble, that's pretty much the way old Winnipeg pal Ron Gauthier remembers the Hot Rod as a young man.

"He was quiet, he was on the shy side," Gauthier says, recalling Piper was a student at Windsor Park Collegiate when one of Gauthier's five sisters -- financial planner Lorraine -- first brought him home.

Piper doesn't need any prompting to share fond memories of that time.

"I dated the prettiest lady in Manitoba. Her name was Lorraine Albertine Gauthier, and she was Miss Manitoba and Miss Congeniality too," Piper says.

Moving from town to town every year throughout his childhood -- his father was an RCMP member and CN Rail cop and the family lived in The Pas, Dauphin, Toronto and Glasgow, Scotland, among other places, before landing in Winnipeg -- Piper says he was expelled from a Toronto junior high school and struggled with his education.

He credits his friendships with the Gauthiers and Cam Connor, a retired NHL player in Edmonton, for helping him get his life on track.

"I was very lucky -- I was a kid that was very confused."

All that cleared up when his pro wrestling career took off in the '70s. His parents named him Roderick Toombs, but he made a name for himself as Roddy Piper -- donning a kilt and Scottish persona came naturally, since he already played the bagpipes.

Piper engaged in a famous running feud with Hulk Hogan in the '80s, served up plenty of lip in a wrestling talk-show segment called Piper's Pit, and took up movie stardom -- fans still bring up a line he ad-libbed in John Carpenter's 1988 cult hit They Live. Told to keep the action moving when he entered a bank armed to the teeth, Piper said the first thing that came to mind: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubblegum."

Hey, it stuck.

Married 23 years to Kitty Toombs -- the couple have four kids and one grandchild -- Piper is still a frequent flyer in and out of the wrestling ring. He suited up for a series of matches in Italy, Finland and the United Kingdom before Christmas. And with about 30 movies under his belt, he's often on location.

He has three movies in the can and he may shoot a film later this year in Saskatoon -- he was born there in 1954, but since his first months weren't so memorable, we'll defend the hometown title.

Tickets for the April 5 show cost $24 - $40 at Ticketmaster (204-780-3333 or www.ticketmaster.ca).

RELATED LINKS

  • More on Roddy Piper


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  • Exclusive Classic Ring Giants Figure: Roddy Piper
  • Roddy Piper "Frats" T-Shirt