September 30, 1993
Hogan's their hero
By JIM SLOTEK - Toronto Sun
We're walking the streets with WWF god-turned-movie-star Hulk Hogan, and Sun photog Greig Reekie is playing advance scout at the steps of the Royal Ontario Museum with a field trip of primary schoolers.
No, the teacher scolds him, my students won't be part of any picture taking. We'd need release forms and besides...
"(Shriek!) It's Hulk Hogan!" went the cry from one child. Before Miss Redtape could react, the kids turned into a screaming mass, stampeding past her toward the friendly man-mountain. Frustrated, she barked commands. The ROM's stone lions paid more mind than the kids.
Ever the boy scout, Hogan looked a little sheepish about usurping the teacher's authority. But his manager, Jimmy Hart -- a "bad" wrestling manager before "I saw the light and became a Hulkamaniac" -- took wicked pleasure at the teacher's predicament yesterday.
"Hah! Ain't that sumthin'," Hart said, "The teacher said no, and the kids said 'Up yer nose with a rubber hose!'"
Kids and the Hulk. It was once a golden combination for the World Wrestling Federation. Hulk was a family draw who cleaned up pro wrestling's image almost singlehandedly with such bromides as "Say your prayers, eat your vitamins, train and believe in yourself."
"They definitely need a new Hulk," says the Hulk (real name Terry Bollea). Yes, he knows the WWF is sliding in popularity, "and they're not going to do it with these new characters with snakes and bodybags and voodoo. "
Kids and the Hulk. Who better to star in a family comedy called Mr. Nanny (opening Oct. 8)? "It's different from Kindergarten Cop and different from Home Alone, but it's all of the above. "It's me on a much more gentle level," says the 6'6", 270-pound Hulkster. "My character's an ex wrestler who's asked to be a bodyguard. And he ends up nanny to two rich, mean children.
"And through my devotion and persistence, I turn these kids around and show them that understanding and love can make any dysfunctional family work."
There may be a half-dozen people on the planet who can say stuff like this with a straight face, and Hulk Hogan is one of them. Even his one bout of scandal -- his past steroid use -- has an ethical note. He says he stopped after it became illegal, in 1988. "Part of it was the illegality, and part was 'Well, you're a role model. What are you going to say to people'?" Did some good come out of his coming clean? "God, yeah. I can't speak for all of wrestling, but (WWF boss) Vince (McMahon) tests weekly. By comparison, testing in pro football is a joke."
Mostly, Hulk and trouble are strangers. "I hate to even say the word 'gentle' 'cause my parents used it all the time. But I was. I never got in trouble, never was a mean kid. I mean, night after night in wrestling I had to be mad at somebody, but that's being an entertainer.
"My son (Nicholas) is three, he's 37 pounds and he's all boy. But he's a gentle kid like I was."
Kids and the Hulk. At the birth of his daughter Brooke, now 5, he told his wife Linda "as soon as she cries or acts weird when I pick up these bags to leave, that's when I'm gonna start winding it down. So when she was about 2 1/2 years old, one day I was leaving and she just cried her heart out 'cause she didn't want me to go."
Hence his upcoming TV series, Thunder & Paradise, a beach-crimefighter series. He said yes to that because it shoots in West Florida, near his Clearwater home.
"I love wrestling, but I thank God that I'm 40 years old now with a family
and a real good handle on what it's all about. People have to mature."