Thursday, February 11, 2010

Literati Glitterati

This is another in a series on celebrity authors.

The wrestling legend of the Missing Link stated that he came from "parts unknown". All we really knew was that he was a wild, out-of-control man, needing a trainer to handle him. Eventually, I found out that Dewey Robertson was the Missing Link, but I still never knew a whole lot about the Link (or Robertson). That all changed when I read Robertson's book, Bang Your Head, co-written by Meredith Renwick.
Renwick is the co-author who did an outstanding job in pulling thoughts, stories and ideas together in the book. Like many other wrestlers from his era, Robertson's memories have faded or diminished due to years of head bumps in the ring and substance abuse out of the ring.
Renwick recently told me, "I think it was the best book anyone could have gotten out of Dewey under the circumstances. I’m not saying that just to pump up my own ego, more to acknowledge that Dewey was a challenge to work with. Anyone who knew him well would back me up on that. That the book got finished at all still amazes me sometimes." Renwick goes into more detail in an online piece she did for Slam! Wrestling.
It was through Slam! Wrestling that Meredith got on the Robertson book project. M
eredith's husband Greg Oliver (Producer on Slam!) approached Robertson about an online Father's Day piece in 2000. Robertson then asked Oliver to help with the book. Oliver was too busy and Renwick was between jobs, so she took on the challenge.
The main challenge was getting and keeping Robertson on track. Robertson's life and ideas were ever-changing. According to Renwick, "He had very definite ideas about what he wanted in the book, though this would change from week to week." Also working against Renwick, were Robertson's reluctance to discuss his years of wrestling in Canada, his memory lapses and his mental state. Renwick admits she was often ready to quit, "To this day I'm not sure how I hung in there as long as I did. Maybe I just wanted to be able to say I was the one who got the damn book finished after 12 years of him working on it."
Fortunately, Renwick persevered and helped Robertson produce a very interesting book. While Robertson wanted to concentrate on his recovery from addictions, Renwick wanted to tell the whole story. The end result is a nice blend of the two components, each revealing a bit of what was behind the other. Renwick told me she was not a fan of wrestling before the book and did not become one after the book, "not after living with Dewey’s story for so long, knowing what a tough life it is and how much wrestlers suffer physically and mentally in the name of putting on a good show."
Renwick did develop an appreciation for the talents of wrestlers. Renwick explained, "Pro wrestling is about far more than just the wrestling: it’s drama, it’s improv comedy, it’s acrobatics and yes, it’s pain and suffering too."
It's clear that Robertson went through a lot of pain and suffering in his life and career. Unfortunately for Robertson, the pains and pressures of his career led him to a life of alcohol, drug and steroid use. Robertson lost a lot to the demons in his life and he is very open about discussing all in his book.
Robertson died in August of 2007. He had achieved his goal of writing and sharing his story. He had been rebuilding his relationship with his 2 sons (also wrestlers at one point). Despite continually battling his vices and the cancer, Robertson got to enjoy the success of his years of labor on the book. Readers will also enjoy the written journey through his life that is Bang Your Head!
I am very grateful that Renwick gave me her time and thoughts for this piece. In her last correspondence with me, Renwick revealed that she was married in Las Vegas in 2001 while attending the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion. The ceremony took place at the Viva Las Vegas Chapel, in a traditional Elvis wedding, including guests watching via webcast. Coincidentally, I was also at that CAC event.
Meredith Renwick and Dewey Robinson-August 2006.


Mike Gonzalez said...

Great story. I remember him from watching on an old b/w tv. It was on a UHF channel. He was in the Texas territory at the time. Great nostalgia and excellent that you got input from Ms. Renwick.

NHart said...

Great blog. Sounds like an interesting book. I'm gong to have to buy it.

Bobby said...

I read Bang Your Head and really enjoyed it. It was too bd that Dewey struggled so much in life, but the story is fascinating.

Terry said...

OMG I remember the Link. He was a great character. I didn't know he wrote a book. I'll have to check it out.