October 27, 1985
Old King Kong
Mean wrestler and footballer Angelo Mosca goes gentle into new worlds
By DAN PROUDFOOT -- Toronto Sun
|A bloody Angelo Mosca is comforted by his son Angelo Jr. in May 1984. -- Norm Betts, Toronto Sun
Thanksgiving morning, and Old King Kong sits at his breakfast table
devouring a pot of coffee
and brewing a new identity.
More on Angelo Mosca bio and story archive
Oh, but nastiness has been good to him.
He is so thankful for that.
The $250,000 house in the Caledon Hills, the security, the not having to
work another day -- a
cornucopia of good things all the product of meanness.
But at 48, King Kong has piled too many miles on his Cadillacs, speeding
from one wrestling
ring to another, and too many times covered his ears in horror as fans have
chanted "Ping-pong, Ping-
pong" mocking poor Old King Kong.
It's not that he has really got old, but perhaps he has had enough of
acting mean, so long after he
stopped feeling mean.
At first it came easily. Establishing himself as the most hated played in
the Canadian Football
League, a quarter of a century ago when Angelo Mosca hadn't even dreamed of
becoming King Kong, evil
wrestler, was no work at all. Well before he made a national reputation by
grinding Willie Fleming into
the turf and out of the 1963 Grey Cup, Mosca was famous locally in Hamilton
for creaming a bouncer at
Duffy's Tavern. Tough punks were a dime a dozen in the part of Waltham,
Mass., where Mosca grew up.
The essential difference was he weighed in at 265 pounds.
But talking to King Kong this Thanksgiving morning is like visiting The
Hooded Fang in
retirement. He's 290 pounds, but hardly threatening. A gracious host, he
keeps making more coffee. "I
went to read for a movie part last week," Mosca says. "Just a bit in The
Return of Billy Jack. I'm looking
around for something to do. I'm not a 9-5 niche sort of person.
"Wrestling? I didn't want to subject myself to the hazards any longer. The
hazards of 100,000
miles a year, all that driving. And being away from home. It takes a very
special lady. My wife Gwen.
She'll be down in a minute. We've been together 20 years
"I got my son Angelo started in pro wrestling, that was great. Maybe you
saw us together in the
GM truck commercial. He's since quit wrestling. It wasn't the lifestyle for
him. He's more of a homebody
than this Angelo Mosca. A real laid-back, quiet kid -- not the
hyer-aggressive guy I am in anything I do."
What does a hyper-aggressive retiree do? Mosca is attempting with
ex-footballer Len Chandler to
stage a wrestling promotion in Hamilton to raise money for the Spinal Cord
Society, he's still wrestling
once a month in Hawaii as a favor to the promoter there, the widow of the
late, famed Prince Maivia, and
there's his enduring interest in show-biz. Some months ago he got a
telephone call. Would he be
interested in becoming host of a television talk show? What a question.
Could Prince Maivia dance the
"This guy called up and told me he'd learned I was one of the 25 best-known
faces in Canada. He
figured I was still marketable. See, I've kept this face alive in this
country for 25 years."
The show is a certainty. It's close, says Mosca. A matter of making the
pilot program and finding
the right network. Meantime, his face remains familiar in new commercials
for General Motors trucks.
Commercials, in fact, have been Mosca's best vehicle for retaining fame
since he broke in with Schick
razors more than 20 years ago.
"I've always played the part of the big mean guy," he says. "Underlying
that, there's always the
feeling in these commercials that 'he's not really that tough.'
Francous Joudan-Glasman, the writer/producer who conceived the
sports/variety/talk show, needs
no resume to see great things in Mosca as co-cost with actor David Clement.
"Tell him why you think I
should have a show," Mosca says when the producer shows up for a coffee, and
it's like throwing a swtich.
"He's visible, versatile, likeable," begins Jourdan-Glasman. "There's not
one subject he cannot
handle. Angie has the capability of teasing someone and being teased, of
taking a roasting or roasting
someone. So whether the guest is Jack Webster or Mila Mulroney, or Sammy
Luftspring ... The man
handles an interview so comfortably. This is a man with 1,000 anecdotes.
This is a wealth for a comedy
talk show writer like me.
"You want humanity to come through in a host. And this man is a great human."
At that Mosca himself bows his head modestly. "I think the show will erase
stigmas I have
attached to me," he says. "That I'm just a body. I think I'll upgrade the
athlete by my intelligence.
"I did learn something about acting last week, when I read for that part in
The Return of Billy
Jack. You know, my thing on camera has always been real hard sell. You know,
'Tell it to my face,' that
"So when I read my lines for this part as a big, jolly guy, I mustn't have
seemed too jolly because
the actress backed up! What I learned right there is, in acting it's more
like talking. But I got the
confidence to adject. I can do it."
He was 5,000 pro wrestling bouts behind him, he estimates, and who knows
Television? Movies? Wrestling promotions? Anything but nothing. Francois
Jourdan-Glasman says he's
absolutely sure the show will sell, going on the air next spring. David
Clayton Thomas is to sing the
theme, written by Francois himself. Right now, Francois decides to belt it
out himself, sitting at the
kitchen table, warmed up only by coffee.
Look out! Here comes Angie
Bringing it home to you,
Watch out! Here comes Angie
A hunk of a man, it's true,
He's got laughs, great guests, games and fun
A real sports shooter, he's Number One.
So watch out for Angie,
Look out, here comes Angie,
Right here, we've got Anglie.
Angelo Mosca, Old King Kong no more, breaks into a big grin. "Isn't that
something?" he says.
"He did that in a restaurant the other day. The waitress didn't know what to