Review: Gary Hart’s Autobiography

On the 9th anniversary of his death, the legendary manager is remembered through his excellent memoir.

You can’t buy it in bookstores. You can’t buy it from the publisher. The out-of-print history lesson and revelations of the extremely underrated manager is available for $2,995.00 on Amazon…and that’s used.

As we pay tribute to the late, great Gary Hart, it’s time to spotlight his 2009 memoir, My Life In Wrestling…With A Little Help From My Friends.

As outrageous as the asking price is, it’s worth it. My uncle’s best friend graciously sent me a PDF version, and I nearly went blind scrolling through the 319 pages, hooked on every word. Because Hart never worked for WWE (due to animosity with an unlikely source), his book provides a sorely-needed analysis on the industry outside of McMahonland. “Playboy” covers so many different territories through so many years with so many talents that have been forgotten.

There’s no fluff about his childhood or as most of his contemporaries do with their memoirs, explaining WWE’s national expansion. Instead, Hart immediately grips the reader with how he broke into the business, and throughout the book, remains focused on delivering what his audience wants: wrasslin’ tales. The few personal anecdotes that he does offer are riveting: his ties with the mafia in Chicago, his divorce with his wife, his relationship with his children, and the plane crash that almost killed him.

Perhaps most fascinating is that Hart managed talent off-screen as well. It wasn’t in the same vein as Paul Ellering booking planes and hotels for the Road Warriors; rather, Hart conceived gimmicks and identities for talent he viewed as special, and then developed them into money-drawing characters. He created Great Kabuki, introduced Great Muta to the U.S. audience and helped Dusty Rhodes find his voice as the American Dream. He influenced Bruiser Brody, One Man Gang, The Spoiler, Mark Lewin and a horde of other territorial stars. Many of his ideas such as The Student and giving roses to the ugliest woman in the crowd should be dusted off for today’s wrestlers.

His brilliance and passion for pro wrestling led him to booking Dallas, where he butted heads with promoter Fritz Von Erich while driving the territory to its financial and creative peak. Although he experienced great triumphs during those years, the aftermath was rife with heartbreak as so many friends and peers died well before their time.

Unafraid to speak his mind and fight for what he believed in, Hart shares some crazy stories about confronting Paul Boesch, Jerry Jarrett and other unsavory characters when they crossed the line and forgot where exactly the “Playboy” came from. Whether discussing promotional wars or the drug craze of the ‘80s, Hart unloads with refreshing candor as an elder statesman of the business.

If you can get your hands on this book, make every effort possible to do so. It ranks up there with Mick Foley’s, Bret Hart’s and Chris Jericho’s as the most entertaining and thought-provoking pro wrestling memoirs.

Gary Hart’s legacy is this book and it’s a shame that they’re both out of reach for the modern wrestling fan.

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