This website was put up using a provided design template. Because Gordon had a thing for nice automobiles, I am leaving it up. I do need some photos of a Gold 1968 Shelby 500 Cobra......the favorite car he owned.
LEGENDARY ANNOUNCER, GORDON SOLIE, 71
(Associated Press, July 29, 2000)
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. -- Gordon Solie, a professional wrestling announcer whose graphic commentary became a fixture of Florida matches in the 1960s and 1970s, died at 71.
He died Thursday of brain cancer at his home in New Port Richey. Late last year, Solie lost his larynx to cancer, the result of years of smoking.
"He was the man -- the absolute best to ever call a match,'' said legendary wrestler Dusty Rhodes. "Back in the '70s, the announcer wasn't in on everything that was going on in the ring and behind the curtain, so Gordon had to call it like he saw it.''
Solie grew up in Minnesota with dreams of becoming a broadcaster. He joined the Air Force after graduating from high school and moved to Tampa after he left the military. He worked as a disc jockey and a radio reporter before landing his first job in pro wrestling.
"I made $5 a night emceeing a weekly wrestling card in Tampa,'' Solie said in an interview last year. ``From there I worked my way into the announcer's spot.''
He became a fixture on Championship Wrestling from Florida telecasts for nearly two decades before he was hired by Ted Turner to work the Georgia Championship Wrestling on cable superstation WTBS in the 1980s.
"If you grew up in Florida or Georgia you knew who Gordon Solie was,'' former wrestler Steve Keirn said. "Me, Hulk Hogan, Dick Slater. We all imitated Gordon. He used the most detailed descriptions and adjectives in describing the action, he was an original.''
Barbara Clary, a Spanish teacher in Zephyrhills, once worked for Solie.
"I was bilingual and he wanted me to conduct interviews with some of the wrestlers in Spanish for all the wrestling fans that watched the shows in Cuba,'' Clary recalled. "He was a wonderful, wonderful person with a great and loving family. He will be missed.''
SOUNDTRACK OF THE RING
(St. Petersburg Times, July 29, 2000)
By Mike Brassfield
Before there was Smackdown or Monday Nitro. Before there were flashpots, fireworks and screaming guitars to accompany every wrestler to the ring.
Before all of that, there was Gordon Solie, a microphone and a collapsible card table in Tampa's Fort Homer Hesterly Armory.
Mr. Solie, whose low-key announcing style was the soundtrack for televised professional wrestling for four decades, was found dead of brain cancer Friday in his New Port Richey home. He was 71.
Pro wrestling was big in Tampa before almost anywhere else. It dates back to the days of the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes and Eddie Graham knocking bellies at the armory, and Mr. Solie ending his Channel 44 broadcasts from the Sportatorium with "So long from the Sunshine State."
Born in Minneapolis in 1929, Mr. Solie broke into the wrestling business as a ring announcer in Tampa in 1950. Ten years later, he started announcing the Championship Wrestling from Florida television show that aired in the state every Saturday from 1960-87.
Mr. Solie had a deep, gravelly voice. But his true strengths were his catch phrases such as "foreign object," "pier six brawl," or describing the blood spewing from a wrestler's forehead as a "crimson mask," as well as his ability to make the staged mayhem sound like legitimate athletic competition.
"We were a team together in an era that kind of led us to where wrestling is at now," said Virgil Runnels, who headlined the CWF territory for much of the 1970s and early '80s as Dusty Rhodes, a bad guy turned good who pummeled opponents with his "atomic elbow."
"We used to call each other the Howard Cosell and (Muhammad) Ali of wrestling."
Before the World Wrestling Federation began enjoying nationwide popularity in 1985, Mr. Solie was one of wrestling's best-known figures because of the sheer amount of announcing he did.
He hosted Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS, the top-rated show during the early years of cable TV in the late '70s and early '80s, and wrestling shows based in Alabama and Puerto Rico.
"He could make a guy who was a poor technical wrestler sound like a Greco-Roman champion," said Wayne Coleman, who wrestled for two decades as "Superstar" Billy Graham. "He was so smooth that words were like butter coming off his lips."
Mr. Solie called the matches of wrestlers such as Jack Brisco, The Great Malenko, Handsome Harley Race and Nature Boy Ric Flair. When Championship Wrestling from Florida folded in 1987, he went to work two years later for Ted Turner-owned World Championship Wrestling until 1993.
In the mid-90s, he announced matches via satellite, his commentary translated into six languages and beamed out to Europe, India, Africa, and Japan by Eurosport, Europe's counterpart to ESPN.
His rise from local TV personality to international play-by-play announcer showed just how far pro wrestling had come.
Today, wrestling is a huge ratings draw. Superstars like Steve Austin, The Rock and Mankind have their own action figures, T-shirts and books. The WCW markets its own cologne.
But Mr. Solie wasn't a fan of the WCW and WWF.
"You can't argue with their success. What they do, they do very well," he said in 1997. "It's just not what I call wrestling."
Mr. Solie said he always took a low-key approach to calling matches and let the action dictate his tone, whereas today's announcers seem to scream the entire match.
"I was like a golf announcer, building up to the excitement," Mr. Solie said. " "He moves from the corner and goes for single leg takedown. He applies pressure. ... AND HE TURNS HIM OVER INTO A BOSTON CRAB ... ' "
"Gordon changed the face of wrestling announcing. He called it like a legitimate sporting contest," said Alex Marvez, who writes a syndicated pro wrestling column for Scripps Howard News Service. "Then it became more of a comic-type industry that Gordon didn't care to be a part of."
For a man who called a sport that most people consider fake, the rewards for Mr. Solie were quite real. He and his wife raised five children in a large home on Lake Keystone in northern Hillsborough County. He moved to New Port Richey in 1994. Mr. Solie underwent surgery for throat cancer last year, officially ending his announcing career. "Over the last several weeks, he had been visited by many longtime friends and colleagues," said Tedd Webb, co-host of WFLA-AM 970's popular weekday morning show A.M. Tampa Bay. "His spirits were very high till the end, and he maintained the sharp sense of humor we all came to love him for."
THE ‘DEAN OF WRESTLING’ IS GONE
(Tampa Tribune, July 29, 2000)
By Joey Johnston
Gordon Solie's signature line was delivered with a wink and a salute to his viewing audience. So long from the Sunshine State. That's how he closed "Championship Wrestling From Florida,'' a homespun precursor for today's slickly produced wrestling shows.
Sometimes, those productions look the same, complete with pyrotechnics, outlandish costumes and dangerous stunts. But in his era, alongside timeless characters inside dingy arenas, there was Gordon Solie. The voice of wrestling. One of a kind.
Solie, who had been battling throat cancer, died quietly Thursday at his home in New Port Richey. He was 71.
"There will never, ever be another like him,'' said wrestler B. Brian Blair. "He was the dean of wrestling for an entire generation. He made a bad match sound good. He made a dull match sound interesting. He was the greatest.''
For the last year, Solie was forced to communicate through the vibrations of a voice box. His raspy delivery had been robbed, although he never lost his sense of humor or the love for regular lunches with close friends. But in recent weeks, Solie learned the cancer was spreading. A large party in his honor had been planned for early August. A few weeks ago, Solie told friends to cancel it.
Solie is survived by four children - Pam, Eric, Ginard and Greg. Funeral arrangements are pending.
"He was the man - the absolute best to ever call a match,'' said former professional wrestler Dusty Rhodes. "Back in the '70s, the announcer wasn't in on everything that was going on in the ring and behind the curtain, so Gordon had to call it like he saw it.''
Solie's interviews were straight-faced and dramatic, much like he was questioning the president. His descriptive phrases were widely known - and widely imitated.
"It's a Pier-6 brawl,'' Solie deadpanned before adding, "we'll be back as soon as order is restored.'' When a wrestler bled, "his face was a crimson mask,'' Solie said urgently. When a sleeper hold was applied, Solie instructed his audience that "the hold is pinching the carotid artery, limiting blood flow to the brain.''
"Gordon Solie absolutely led the way,'' said "Mean'' Gene Okerland, the announcer for World Championship Wrestling (WCW). "He showed so much dedication and respect for wrestling. He leaves a lot of good friends in this business. What greater tribute could there be for him?''
Solie, originally from Minneapolis, came to Tampa in 1950 after a stint in the Air Force. He began as a disc jockey for an Ybor City radio station, then branched into announcing and promotions for auto racing and professional wrestling.
He attracted a loyal and growing audience with "Championship Wrestling From Florida,'' which was syndicated throughout the state. The familiar venues were the Sportatorium and Fort Homer Hesterly Armory. The big names were Jack and Jerry Brisco, Duke Keomuka, Hiro Matsuda, The Great Malenko, Cowboy Luttral, Pak Song, Buddy Colt, Dory Funk Jr., and Rhodes. Solie became nationally known when WTBS began broadcasting wrestling cards.
After his retirement from the sport in 1995, he sometimes lamented the sport's direction. "It's getting too suggestive ... the themes are in poor taste and usually outright disgraceful,'' he said in a 1999 interview. "They don't know a wristwatch from a wristlock. Whatever happened to wrestling?'' Solie fell into despair when his wife Eileen -- known to friends as "Smokey'' -- died of cancer in 1997. Solie's four-pack-a-day smoking habit led to some of his health problems, but he maintained a brave face publicly. He told some friends he knew the end was near.
"He had a pillow in his home that said, ‘Screw the golden years,' '' Blair said. "He had it rough. We grieve for ourselves now because we miss him, but I can almost see him now, dancing with his wife in the clouds.
"And I can see the wrestlers who have passed, all up there with him. There's Gordon with his microphone, describing the action as always. He's gone home. We'll never see another one like him.''
***Note: Gordon was survived by five children - Pam, Jonard, Danise, Greg and Eric.
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