The following is a tribute and celebration of the life of one of the biggest stars that British Professional Wrestling has ever known : Jackie Mr. TV Pallo.
Jack Ernest Gutteridge was born in Islington in 1925, and raised above the family boxing gym. In fact Cousin Reg went on to become the greatest fight commentator of all time.
Having tried the noble art of boxing in his teens, the youngster was drawn to wrestling as a way of making money for his wedding to the Lady that was to be at his side for the rest of his life. His beloved Trixie. They became engaged in 1943 but it was in 1949 that he made his way into the Pro ranks, working the halls as a second and referee before embarking on the journey that would make him a superstar. Not wishing to tarnish the proud Gutteridge family name, he adopted his Mothers maiden name coupled with the first letter of his second Christian name and hence the legend that was Jackie Pallo was born.
During those early years, he like the rest of us would travel the length and breadth of the Country entertaining a huge variety of audiences Nationwide. Jack soon gathered a reputation for giving a great show and for having the tenacity to take on any opponent in all weight classes. There were many great wrestlers around in those halcyon days but few had the charisma or showmanship qualities that this youngster displayed, and little did he know that soon he would become the best known grappler in the U.K. His villainous approach to the bouts coupled with touches of comedy and arrogance brought the vast crowds to their feet in anger on more than one occasion. The Promoters soon realised that they had a real character on their hands plus one of the most reliable wrestlers on their books. No matter where the venues were situated or how ever small, even in bad health, Jack would always turn up on time. He was a consummate Professional.
In 1955 when ITV launched wrestling on World of Sport, it was Jack that sat with the great Kent Walton, to teach him the names of the holds and moves, and in 1956 he made his own debut against the immortal Jack Dempsey. Following that show, he appeared many times during the following years, but it was in the early sixties when he began the Professional feuds with Mick McManus that broke all box office records for viewers, and led him to include the title of “Mr TV” in his name. In 1963 the feud commenced with a slanging match on the Eamonn Andrews chat show, and went on until 1969.
Such was the appeal of this pair that on cup final day in 1967, a staggering 22 million tuned in to watch their grudge match.
Other appearances regularly drew 10- 12 million viewers.
His red pony-tailed hair and black velvet ribbon together with the striped trunks became a byword to audiences making him one of the most famous wrestlers in the Country and instantly recognisable.
In 1969, he won the only title he ever held by taking the Heavy Middleweight belt from Bert Royal at the Royal Albert Hall in front of a capacity 7000 people and went on the sell out this venue a mind blowing 6 times, wrestling in front of many celebrities including the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal family who were ardent fans.
The swinging sixties and seventies also saw Jack diversify his career leading to many appearances as an actor in such programmes as:-
Emergency Ward 10, Are you being served, (still being seen in the U.S.) Porridge, Return of the Saint, and an unforgettable appearance on the Avengers in 1964 when the beautiful Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale inadvertently knocked out our boy while playing Sexton. He never lived down the ribbings from the lads on that one!
He also had roles in the films:-
The Reckoning and Not Now Darling.
In 1973, he was the subject of This is your Life, and had also starred in many commercials for beer etc.
Not satisfied with all this however, he launched his own brand of tee-shirts and casual shirts onto an eager market, and was the only wrestler ever to be sponsored winning a contract with Saab.
During the seventies, Jack’s only Son : J.J. naturally followed in his fathers footsteps and would often work with Dad forming a colourful tag team, but by 1974 they left the mainstream to work as Independents in order to give the smaller outlaying audiences a chance to enjoy their work.
Jack wrote a bestseller called “You Grunt and I Groan” and when wrestling finally died on ITV, he immediately started a contract with J.J. on Screensport cable TV, finally hanging up his golden boots in 1990 due to hip problems at the ripe old age of 65 when most men are in armchairs.
Throughout his illustrious career, Jack’s love affair with his beautiful wife Trixie was legendary among the wrestlers and the audiences who were as used to seeing her at the side of her husband as they were the boys. During his many TV shows, Trixie could always be seen sitting behind Kent Walton egging her man on. His love, loyalty and devotion to her was the stuff books are written about, and on this sad occasion, our hearts go out to her and the Son that he was so proud of.
I had the privilege to travel with Jack on many occasions and his good humour and countless tales kept us in hysterics during the long journeys. He was totally unaffected by his fame and remained the boy from London at all times.
These days I host the British Wrestlers Reunion which meets annually at my Public House and each year we honour different wrestlers with awards. Last year the overwhelming vote was to present Jackie with a life time achievement award for his outstanding contribution to wrestling and entertainment. Although he always normally attended the functions, sadly due to his terrible illness and constant suffering plus not wishing to leave Trixie alone during her own suffering, he was unable to receive the accolade.
Perhaps after a suitable period, the family would kindly allow us to present this tribute posthumously as a mark of our undying friendship and respect for a truly great entertainer.
Our business has always been based on entertainment and now, twenty years after the hey days ended, audiences only remember a handful of wrestlers, such as : Mick McManus, Adrian Street, Bobby Barnes, Les Kellett and of course that great entertainer :
Jackie Mr. TV Pallo.
Editors note:Following the death of his Father on the 11th Feb. 2006 and his Mother Trixie, this year, J.J. Pallo finally received a posthumous lifetime achievement award in recognition of his father : Jackie Pallo and a similar for himself (2013)