The Fabulous Moolah Biography
Lillian Ellison was born on July 22th 1923, the youngest of
13 siblings and raised in South Carolina. At age eight, Lillian's
mother died and her father took her to wrestling shows as a
way to cope. Her father's love for wrestling became her own
and she aspired to become a wrestler, that of the likes of Mildrid
Burke. After a short marriage to wrestler Johnny Long of Charlotte-based
Crockett Promotions and giving birth to her daughter Mary Ellison
(who later wrestled as Darling Pat Sherry), she embarked on
a road to becoming a wrestling legend.
Lillian was trained by Johnny Long and Billy Wolfe however Wolfe,
the top Women's wrestling promoter at the time didn't think
that Lillian could make it as a wrestler because of her small
size. She however didn't quit and began to work for promoter
Jack Pfefer. Under the name Slave Girl Moolah, she became a
valet for The Elephant Boy Tony Olivas and "Nature Boy" Buddy
Rogers. As a valet, she was mainly eye candy however her interferences
proved to be a huge factor in matches. During this time, she
was married to wrestler Buddy Lee, who helped train her. Mae
Young can also attest to having a hand in training Moolah in
her early days.
She later took on the name Fabulous Moolah and won the Women's
World Title on September 18th 1956 after defeating Judy Grable,
beating out many women's wrestlers at the time. Her then husband
Buddy Lee and herself opened a wrestling school and began training
future wrestlers. Training future female wrestlers gave her
extreme leverage, she held Women's wrestling in the palm of
her hands and arguable the main reason she was able to reign
as champion for the lengths of time that she did. Among top
female athletes trained by Moolah were Luna Vachon, Vivian Vachon,
Richter, Lelani Kai, Judy Martin, Patty Bray, Margaret
Garcia, Rita Cortez, Joyce Grable and more.
The monopoly didn't take away from the fact that she was one
of the most vicious woman of her time. Her underhanded tactics,
flamboyant costumes and knack for working the crowds catapulted
her to Mildred Burke status and beyond. Indeed she is one of
the most celebrated wrestlers for the length of holding a title,
however it came with controversy. The World Wrestling Entertainment
recognizes her as Women's champion for 28years from the period
of winning the title in 1986 to the point of her losing the
title to Wendi Richter on July 23rd 1984 at Madison Square Garden.
The fact of the matter is, Moolah lost and regained the title
numerous times after 1956 and the actual champion had been disputed.
It was only until 1964 that she was recognized as the NWA Women's
champion, which made her the Undisputed Women's titleholder.
Two years later on September 17th 1966, Betty Boucher defeated
The Fabulous Moolah for the title and she regained it weeks
later on October 14th 1966. On March 10th 1968, Yukiko Tomoe
defeated her in Osaka, Japan. Moolah then regained the title
on April 2nd 1968 in Hamamatsu, Japan. The title then changed
hands two more times to Sue Green and Evelyn Stevens. When she
defeated Evelyn Stevens to regain the title, it made her a 5-Time
champion. Thought she was defeated for the title, she always
regained it in a matter of days. Moolah having the rights to
the title made her invincible.
In 1983, she sold the rights of the title and the Women's Tag
Team Championship titles to the WWE, (World Wrestling Federation
at the time) after they withdrew from NWA. The titles were then
known as the WWF Women's Championship and the WWF Women's Tag-Team
Championship. This was a new era in wrestling, the "Rock `N
Wrestling" era, and Moolah signed to work exclusively with the
Richter defeating Moolah for the title brought
the Women's Division national attention, with celebrity manager
of Wendi Richter; Cindy Lauper in her corner. Moolah later regained
the title by defeating Wendi on November 25th 1985 as the "Spider
Lady." A very controversial match being that there were contract
disputes between Richter and Vince McMahon, the referee was
told to make a fast count and Wendi Richter unknowingly lost
the belt to Moolah. The incident is known as the "The Original
Screwjob." Moolah went on to drop the title to Velvet McIntyre
and Sensational Sherri. By the late 1980's the Women's Championship
was vacated and Moolah only made special appearances throughout
On June 24th 1995, The Fabulous Moolah was inducted into the
WWF Hall of Fame. She was the first woman to be inducted.
In 1999, the newer generation of wrestling fans were introduced
to Moolah. In the generation where Sable and Chyna were the
top names synonymous with female wrestlers at the time, Moolah's
role was comic relief, which for many was tasteless. On the
September 9th 1999 episode of SmackDown in the midst of a Chyna
vs. Jeff Jarret feud, The Fabulous Moolah accompanied by Mae
Young had her 2 cents on the inter-gender feud, her siding with
Chyna led to a guitar being smashed over her head. At Unforgiven
1999 Fabulous Moolah & Mae Young interfered in the Chyna vs
Jeff Jarrett "Good Housekeeping" Intercontinental title match.
Both ladies suplexed Jeff however he ended up getting the better
of them by clotheslining them both. Earlier that night on Heat,
the WWF Women's Champion Ivory had some disrespectfully comment
towards Moolah which led to Moolah slapping Ivory. In a backstage
segment after the Chyna vs Jeff match Ivory continued her disrespectfully
comments which resulted in her being attached by The Fabulous
Moolah & Mae Young. This led to a Moolah vs Ivory feud. After
a series of segment and matches in the weeks after, Moolah defeated
Ivory at No Mercy 1999, holding the WWF Women's title once again.
Just days later, Ivory regained the title.
From the period between 2000 throughout 2007, The Fabulous Moolah
and Mae Young were recurring personalities on WWE television.
They were used primarily for comic relief. Moolah was still
tough as nails and was able to take vicious bumps from much
younger superstars, male and females. Highlights include September
15th 2003 where she defeated Victoria in a match and then received
a vicious RKO from "Legend Killer" Randy Orton.
In 2003 her Autobiography was released Lillian Ellison, The
First Goddess of the Squared Circle and she was inducted into
the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame (PWHF).In 2004, The Fabulous
Moolah stared in the film "Lipstick and Dynamite" a documentary
about the women wrestlers from the 1950s era. The film had many
viewings at independent theaters. In 2006, a Fabulous Moolah
action figure was released by Jakks Pacific for their Classic
On November 3rd 2007, WWE.com announced that Lillian Ellison
passed the night before...
Fabulous Moolah passes away:
WWE is saddened by the passing of Lillian Ellison, who was
known to sports-entertainment fans as Hall of Famer Fabulous
Moolah. She passed away last night in Columbia, S.C. In the
world of women’s wrestling, there will always be one irrefutable
legend that stands head and shoulders above the rest: The
Fabulous Moolah. She was the longest reigning champion in
the history of her chosen sport, or any sport for that matter.
And with more than 50 years in the business to her credit,
she established a legacy that will never be forgotten, making
her name synonymous with female wrestling.