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» WrestlingClassics.com Message Board » Professional Wrestling & General Discussion '99-June '07 » Penny Banners Book Review,,Tampa Florida

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Author Topic: Penny Banners Book Review,,Tampa Florida
Penny Banner
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Review of Banner Days the Autobiography of Penny Banner
-- Karen Belcher

In 1954, when legendary promoter Sam Muchnick wanted to recruit 19 year
old Mary Ann Kostecki as a lady wrestler, his biggest hurdle was
persuading her that there really were lady wrestlers. She finally
believed him after he showed her photos of Mildred Burke and some
others, and the legendary career of “The St. Louis Woman” Penny Banner
began.

Penny Banner’s wrestling career spanned 23 years, from 1954 through
1977, and she didn’t lose a pin match during the last 20 years. She was
the first AWA Ladies’ Champion. She held the USA and Canadian Ladies
Tag Team Championships with Betty Jo Hawkins in 1955. She held both
titles with Bonnie Watson from 1956 to 1957. Penny and Lorraine Johnson
held the USA and Canadian Ladies Tag Team Championships from 1958
through 1959.

The beautiful but feisty blonde was one of the pioneers of Ladies’
Wrestling, helping to open up new states in a era when the laws had to
be changed to allow women to wrestle in many places. State Sports
Commissioners were concerned that Ladies’ Wrestling was just an excuse
for a sex show, so when the girls wrestled they wore bathing suits that
had been specially reinforced with surgical tubing and elastic for
“safety’s” sake. Even an accidental slip could get a girl suspended.

Promoters warned their girls to dress and act like ladies when in
public. Billy Wolfe, the first man Penny worked for, insisted that his
girls had to wear high heels and dresses, plus furs if they had them,
when entering the arenas. In order to be approved by the Commissioners
in new states and open up more territories for the women, they had to
gain respect.

The Commissioners were most zealous in their efforts to make sure that
Women’s Wrestling was legitimate. They insisted on the women getting
physicals before matches. Penny writes, We had to bring a paper with
us, stating that we were healthy in every respect. Before that, they
insisted on the girls having a “pap smear,” which was totally
unreasonable. The promoter, Leonard Schwartz, managed to get that
ridiculous requirement squelched fast. The very idea!

As pioneer of Women’s Wrestling, Penny’s career was full of firsts.
She wrestled in the first ladies’ tag team match in Chicago, the first
women’s match in Indianapolis, IN, the first ladies’ tag match in her
home town of St. Louis, and was the first Women’s Canadian Tag Team
Champion with Bonnie Watson.

In 1961, Penny became the first ever Ladies AWA World Champion after
June Byers, then the NWA Women’s Champion was a no-call, no-show for
their scheduled match for the NWA Women’s Championship. Promoter James
Barnett decided to have a nine girl battle royal with all the women on
the card, and the winner would hold the new AWA Ladies Championship.

This wasn’t a simple battle royal like the ones held today, however.
Once the battle royal ended, they would start the second part - a
series of single matches. That series started with a match between the
first and second girls eliminated, then the third and fourth. The fifth
and sixth would be in the third singles match. Then the seventh, eighth
and ninth girls would wrestle the winners of those three singles
matches.

The winners of those three matches were Penny Banner, Theresa Theis and
Kathleen Wimbley. Those three women went on to a three way match that
was lost by Wimbley, leaving Banner and Theis to go on and wrestle each
other in the main event. Can you imagine anyone wrestling four matches
in one night these days?

Reading Penny’s book, you get the feeling that you are sharing stories
and gossip with an old friend. She tells us about the women she
wrestled against - not just their ring techniques, but their spouses
and children, and what became of them, if she knows. The road stories,
such as the one about the time she and Betty Jo Hawkins were mooned by
Don Colt and Ray Stevens while driving to Columbus, are hilarious.

We hear about her visits to the Hart Family home and some of the crazy
goings on there. Ms. Banner also tells some of the sad stories of girls
who died or were seriously injured. We hear about the times she was
nearly raped, and the close calls while driving long stretches in even
the worst weather.

Penny talks about her romances, too, including her dates with Elvis
Presley. They made headlines in the gossip columns for a while, and
Penny gives the juicy details. All I’ll say is that this is a must read
for Elvis fans!

She tells how she met and fell in love with then referee, later
wrestler, Johnny Spade (no, not the guy currently in WWE), to whom she
was married for over 30 years. We hear of Penny’s love for her daughter
Wendi, and how that love got her through the tough times ahead. We see
how the marriage fell apart and experience her pain through the years
of denial, and finally coming face to face with the truth.

Banner also talks about life after wrestling - her career in real
estate, successes in the Senior Olympics despite a pinched sciatic
nerve, and love for singing karaoke. She was inducted into the
Cauliflower Alley Club and received their first Lifetime Achievement
Award in 1997, and later their Pioneer Award. Penny is one of the stars
of the recent documentary, Lipstick & Dynamite, **** & Vinegar.

My favorite kudo to Penny is this one from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan:

Penny could captivate an audience with her ability in the ring and with
her beauty. In my opinion, Penny is considered one of the top hands in
our industry and is also a great friend. I’ll tell you how good she is
- I wouldn’t pay to see me, but would pay to see Penny.

Some excerpts from Penny’s comments on the state of Women’s Wrestling
today:

My first impression when I watched WWWF or WWE was, “How nice (the
promoter) treats his girls,” making stars out of them on national
television. Then as his power grew and many years passed, I began
noticing what a mockery it made of women and how they were being
exploited in ways that never would have opened up a territory, state or
town.

It’s sad to see what we fought to establish as professional women
wrestling, a good thing done by good athletes, to now have it so
exploited. I hear of the antics played out by two “old ladies,” as the
fans call them making fools of themselves and looking more ridiculous
each time they appear.

Some of the girls I’ve seen on the shows look like they would have
great possibilities as a real professional but they’ve never been given
a chance. They are being completely controlled by these scripted
so-called matches. They are used only as a lure to draw paying
customers to fill the deep pockets of the organization. Again I say,
what a shame, what real shame!

Penny Banner loves wrestling, her friends and the fans, and that shines
through in her entertaining and informative autobiography. She tells it
the way it really was. This is the best book I’ve read about women’s
wrestling, and one of the best wrestling books. You can order Banner
Days from Penny's website at http://www.bannerdays.com.

-- Karen Belcher
(8/02/04)

--------------------
Penny

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quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
Johnny Spade (no, not the guy currently in WWE)

Huh?

--------------------
See The Blue Meanie and Jasmin St. Claire in the new music video from the band Always Sunday, featuring clips from the upcoming film, "Communication Breakdown":

"Love Divide" from Communication Breakdown motion picture soundtrack

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Crimson Mask I
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Yeah, me too.

[Confused] in the Sunshine State...

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TAFKADixie
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Maybe he was confusing it with Johnny BLAZE as Eric's protege was first referred to before he changed it to Johnny Nitro. Only thing I can figure.

--------------------
A bet is a bet my ignorant friend. Galactus has never been known to burp up a continent outside of "What If?" and now you shall forever have the words "ROM: SPACEKNIGHT" emblazoned across your forehead.

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That ain't the point. It was Johnny Weaver as everybody knows.
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TAFKADixie
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That's a pretty valid point CM, if on nothing but pure fact.

--------------------
A bet is a bet my ignorant friend. Galactus has never been known to burp up a continent outside of "What If?" and now you shall forever have the words "ROM: SPACEKNIGHT" emblazoned across your forehead.

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Scott E. Williams
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There is, or at least was, a Johnny Spade in Ohio Valley Wrestling.

--------------------
"There are some pleasures in life you just can't put a price on. Nailing a two-bit hood like McGee good and proper with a bus is one of 'em." -- Franky

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Yeah but that ain't the POINT, Johnny Spade, Johnny Blaze, Johnny Paper Bag, whatever. Penny was married to Johnny WEAVER.
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Will Morrisey
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I believe that Penny Banner may have changed Weaver's name to "Spade" in the book--presumably, legal reasons. She uses the name Johnny Spade for Johnny Weaver throughout.
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Aha.
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oblongo
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Legal reasons?
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Will Morrisey
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Yes. Mr. Weaver does not come off as an admirable person. I am putting this mildly.
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Penny Banner
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quote:
Originally posted by First Weezie Shavings and Loan:
quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
Johnny Spade (no, not the guy currently in WWE)

Huh?
****************************************
OH no.........he is NOT the one...Names have been changed ;-)
He was Johnny Ace.......haha

--------------------
Penny

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Penny Banner
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I WANT TO TELL YOU GUYS...I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING ALL OVER FOR THIS SECTION SO I COULD CHAT W/Y'ALL AND I COULD NOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO FIND IT.....
SORRY FOR LEAVING YOU IN THE DARK OVER MY X.

IT IS TRUE WHEN WE MET, HE WAS ' JOHNNY ACE'..SO, MY WRITER DECIDED TO CHANGE HIS NAME TO JOHNNY SPADE...I DON'T WATCH WWE, SO.....NEVER KNEW THERE WAS A SPADE OUT THERE...

PLEASE FORGIVE FOR MY ABSENCE............MISSED Y'ALL......penny

--------------------
Penny

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Hey Penny, maybe you can clear something up for us, if you don't mind a question about him. We all know he teamed with Sonny Myers, who he resembles a lot, at one point as the Weaver Brothers, but I saw SOMETHING somewhere saying he really IS Sonny's brother, which would have made him really John Myers---true or false?
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Oh, and if you add the board to your 'favorites', which is the little heart thing on AOL, or you do from where it says 'favorites' at the very top of the window on Internet Explorer, whichever one you're using, then you can always find it.
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Penny Banner
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Hey Penny, maybe you can clear something up for us, if you don't mind a question about him. We all know he teamed with Sonny Myers, who he resembles a lot, at one point as the Weaver Brothers, but I saw SOMETHING somewhere saying he really IS Sonny's brother, which would have made him really John Myers---true or false?

***************************************
Hi Mark..........Johnny is NOT Sonny's brother or any relative..someone did that, and I think it was Gust Karras when Johnny first began wrestling..but then when he left St. Joe after we got married...he became his own person.
*******************************************
OH, and thanks for telling me about putting this forum on my fav places.......I already have the web on it..didn't know I could do just the forum.....thanks.......
I kind of like looking at the topics...I noticed that Stu Harts house was sold ;-((((((((((...what memories....
thanks guys........I'll try to keep up w/y'all
*********************************************

--------------------
Penny

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Penny Banner
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quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Hey Penny, maybe you can clear something up for us, if you don't mind a question about him. We all know he teamed with Sonny Myers, who he resembles a lot, at one point as the Weaver Brothers, but I saw SOMETHING somewhere saying he really IS Sonny's brother, which would have made him really John Myers---true or false?

***************************************
Hi Mark..........Johnny is NOT Sonny's brother or any relative..someone did that, and I think it was Gust Karras when Johnny first began wrestling..but then when he left St. Joe after we got married...he became his own person.
*******************************************
OH, and thanks for telling me about putting this forum on my fav places.......I already have the web on it..didn't know I could do just the forum.....thanks.......
I kind of like looking at the topics...I noticed that Stu Harts house was sold ;-((((((((((...what memories....
thanks guys........I'll try to keep up w/y'all
*********************************************

Hi again.......actually, I now remember where you saw Weaver Brothers...someone publicized Buck Weaver, a veteran wrestler was Johnnys brother and called them the Weaver Bros...It must of been some sort of program..but only lasted a short while.....( forgot all about that one..;-) )

--------------------
Penny

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quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Hey Penny, maybe you can clear something up for us, if you don't mind a question about him. We all know he teamed with Sonny Myers, who he resembles a lot, at one point as the Weaver Brothers, but I saw SOMETHING somewhere saying he really IS Sonny's brother, which would have made him really John Myers---true or false?

***************************************
Hi Mark


Mask. Mark's the short one. [Big Grin]

..........Johnny is NOT Sonny's brother or any relative..someone did that, and I think it was Gust Karras when Johnny first began wrestling..but then when he left St. Joe after we got married...he became his own person.
*******************************************
OH, and thanks for telling me about putting this forum on my fav places.......I already have the web on it..didn't know I could do just the forum.....thanks.......
I kind of like looking at the topics...I noticed that Stu Harts house was sold ;-((((((((((...what memories....
thanks guys........I'll try to keep up w/y'all
*********************************************

Hi again.......actually, I now remember where you saw Weaver Brothers...someone publicized Buck Weaver, a veteran wrestler was Johnnys brother and called them the Weaver Bros...It must of been some sort of program..but only lasted a short while.....( forgot all about that one..;-) )[/qb]
Thanks for clearing it up once and for all about Sonny and Johnny, but they did a Weaver Brothers gig for awhile too, had to be maybe '62, was talking to Les Thatcher and we both remembered it, as did several of the, uh, longer-memoried posters.

[ 08-05-2004, 08:19 PM: Message edited by: Crimson Mask I ]

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Ah, now it makes sense. The current "Johnny Ace" works for WWE (or did last time I heard). Not sure why the editor would feel the need to change gimmick names.

--------------------
See The Blue Meanie and Jasmin St. Claire in the new music video from the band Always Sunday, featuring clips from the upcoming film, "Communication Breakdown":

"Love Divide" from Communication Breakdown motion picture soundtrack

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Penny Banner
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Hey Penny, maybe you can clear something up for us, if you don't mind a question about him. We all know he teamed with Sonny Myers, who he resembles a lot, at one point as the Weaver Brothers, but I saw SOMETHING somewhere saying he really IS Sonny's brother, which would have made him really John Myers---true or false?

***************************************
Hi Mark


Mask. Mark's the short one. [Big Grin]

..........Johnny is NOT Sonny's brother or any relative..someone did that, and I think it was Gust Karras when Johnny first began wrestling..but then when he left St. Joe after we got married...he became his own person.
*******************************************
OH, and thanks for telling me about putting this forum on my fav places.......I already have the web on it..didn't know I could do just the forum.....thanks.......
I kind of like looking at the topics...I noticed that Stu Harts house was sold ;-((((((((((...what memories....
thanks guys........I'll try to keep up w/y'all
*********************************************

Hi again.......actually, I now remember where you saw Weaver Brothers...someone publicized Buck Weaver, a veteran wrestler was Johnnys brother and called them the Weaver Bros...It must of been some sort of program..but only lasted a short while.....( forgot all about that one..;-) )
Thanks for clearing it up once and for all about Sonny and Johnny, but they did a Weaver Brothers gig for awhile too, had to be maybe '62, was talking to Les Thatcher and we both remembered it, as did several of the, uh, longer-memoried posters.[/QB]
**********************************************
Ummm......maybe so, but we just came here to the carolinas in feb of '62..maybe that happened, If so.....I forgot, I only remember Buck Weaver as being booked w/him once..;-)

--------------------
Penny

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Penny Banner
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quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
quote:
Originally posted by Penny Banner:
quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Hey Penny, maybe you can clear something up for us, if you don't mind a question about him. We all know he teamed with Sonny Myers, who he resembles a lot, at one point as the Weaver Brothers, but I saw SOMETHING somewhere saying he really IS Sonny's brother, which would have made him really John Myers---true or false?

***************************************
Hi Mark


Mask. Mark's the short one. [Big Grin]

..........Johnny is NOT Sonny's brother or any relative..someone did that, and I think it was Gust Karras when Johnny first began wrestling..but then when he left St. Joe after we got married...he became his own person.
*******************************************
OH, and thanks for telling me about putting this forum on my fav places.......I already have the web on it..didn't know I could do just the forum.....thanks.......
I kind of like looking at the topics...I noticed that Stu Harts house was sold ;-((((((((((...what memories....
thanks guys........I'll try to keep up w/y'all
*********************************************

Hi again.......actually, I now remember where you saw Weaver Brothers...someone publicized Buck Weaver, a veteran wrestler was Johnnys brother and called them the Weaver Bros...It must of been some sort of program..but only lasted a short while.....( forgot all about that one..;-) )
Thanks for clearing it up once and for all about Sonny and Johnny, but they did a Weaver Brothers gig for awhile too, had to be maybe '62, was talking to Les Thatcher and we both remembered it, as did several of the, uh, longer-memoried posters.
**********************************************
Ummm......maybe so, but we just came here to the carolinas in feb of '62..maybe that happened, If so.....I forgot, I only remember Buck Weaver as being booked w/him once..;-)[/QB]

*********************************************
AND.........BTW, SORRY ABOUT THAT ' MASK '...;-)
WELL GUYS, I'M OFF TO SWIMMING..HAVE TO KEEP THAT TRAINING, HAVE 'STATE' COMPETITION COMING UP THE END OF NEXT MONTH..AND 'MUST' PLACE A 1ST OR 2ND TO QUALIFY FOR THE SR. NATIONALS IN PITTSBURGH NEXT 'JUNE'...........bye for now.....

--------------------
Penny

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Maybe it was something that got written up in the mags and didn't happen? Wouldn't be the first time. Not sure if anybody's remembering actually SEEING it or just reading about it... oh well.
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Penny Banner
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Member # 4939

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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Maybe it was something that got written up in the mags and didn't happen? Wouldn't be the first time. Not sure if anybody's remembering actually SEEING it or just reading about it... oh well.

********************************
Yes...so many were/are sensationalist.
I just finished doing an interview that will be up in a couple day at www.neweraofwrestling.com.
I haven't heard it yet..hope it comes across good and I appreciate Chris, the interviewer helping me get the word out about my book release ;-)
Speaking of publicity for my book...Did any of you see what Georgia M wrote in her chatterbox? She is a very nice person...
I was told to send a REVIEW copy of my book to Dave Meltzer, which I did. ....so far, I have not heard a word from him, and its been over 2 weeks......Maybe he didn't like it.. If any of you have read anything I missed, please let me know. Thanks..........
*********************************************

--------------------
Penny

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