President Blair alerted the world that Cauliflower lost one it's longtime hard-working members, Dean Silverstone on March 26th at only 73 years of age. Dean was an upper-tier board member and former CAC Ear newsletter editor and much more besides owning a chain of 50's, 60's classic vinyl LP record stores. Dean attended his first CAC in 1993 when we were still just the annual Saturday night Awards Banquet honoring wrestlers, boxers and film/tv entertainers at the beautiful Sportsman's Lodge resort in the Los Angeles Valley. Besides his years of CAC work, Dean is best remembered for his history as a promoter in his home state of Washington drawing massive tv ratings for his show taped out of Yakima, WA. It was broadcast in every major market in the state including Seattle(where Dean based his office), Spokane, Tacoma, Bellingham and even in parts of Idaho and Oregon(Pendleton).
Karl Lauer got Dean heavily involved in helping run CAC's membership and business sides, and when Maria Bernardi passed, Dean took on her duties as well as much of those of Art Abrams when he died in 1999. For years in the '90s and beyond, Dean and wife Ruth hosted their Northwest Wrestling Reunion at their home right on the water in Isaquah, WA. I attended six and brought Ray Stevens up from Fremont, CA one year at Dean's request. That was the same year his CAC honored wrestler wife Terese Thies and I also flew with Ray to his one and only Mobile/Gulf Coast Reunion and CAC in 1996 where Ray reunited with AWA World Tag Partners and legit pals Nick Bockwinkel and Pat Patterson, Bobby Heenan, his former AWA roommate, Angelo Mosca, Pat Patterson, Bill Watts and many others both Ray and Dean loved.
Former CAC VP Scott Teal and his Crowbar Press Publishing Group put out Dean's book "I Ain't No Pig Farmer" several years ago and Dean wrote about first putting together(as a teen) the Seattle program for promoter Harry Elliot(beginning in 1959)who he'd later ref and do publicity work for. When Harry finally retired in 1968, Dean soon began his own non-NWA, promotion in WA state for seven years. Even though they weren't promoting whatsoever in Washington, Dean felt major heat from Vancouver, BC promoters Sandor Kovacs and Gene Kiniski. Each year until Gene passed, I tried nagging him into attending Dean's reunions but sadly he was still sore at Dean for "running outlaw opposition." I even reminded Big Thunder that they weren't even promoting there during those years, to no avail. Dean usually had at least 80 of the boys and girls at his 2-day reunions including mostly CAC members/honorees like Johnny Valentine, Kenji Shibuya, HB Haggerty, Tony Borne, Shawn Mayne, Ripper Roy Collin's wrestling widow Barbara Baker, Tito Montez, Moolah and Mae, Eric Frolich, the Kozak Brothers, Dick Beyer, Ivan Koloff, Jerry Grey, and so many others from tons of U.S. territories. Plus of course Dean's surviving promotion stars like his lead one in Lumberjack Luke. Luke and Dean loved hearing frequent attendee Rey Urbano(Tokyo Tom and the Original Detroit/Sheik territory Great Kabooki although Rey was Filipino-American portraying other cultures) each year retell all the ribs the boys used to play on him when he'd fall asleep while others drove everyone to the next town. Dean's favorites were the wild ribs that also included Mr Fuji, Maurice Vachon, Jay York and sometimes shotguns.
As of this writing, we also learned of an equally sad passing in WWE's greatest(and longest-tenured) ring announcer, Howard "Fink" Finkel. Howard began announcing for Vince McMahon Sr's WWWF in the latter 1970's. Howard was there for all of it: the Bruno to Graham and Backlund eras. Expanding WWF nationally and the Wrestlemanias, pay per views, Attitude Eras and everything that followed. Fink is perhaps most treasured for announcing all those years at Madison Square Garden and all the other classic WWWF/WWF house show venues plus often the weekly tv. Plus he loved anytime he was written into angles and on-camera skits, where he showed off his acting chops. Fink continued working in the office in a variety of many behind-the-scenes roles including mentoring others there like CAC attendees Brian Solomon and Ben Brown; who've also regularly attended many CAC reunions. Howard may have been in ailing health, but #thevoice was far too young to have been taken from us at only 69. Can you just hear Howard up in Heaven saying in his strong, booming voice "And New Champion! I mean Heaven resident...Howard "the Fink" Finkel!"
"Fink" as he was known to his close friends, equally attended the last few years with us in Vegas, and spoke at my "Greatest Voices In the Biz" daytime seminar panel several years back along with Memphis' finest in Lance Russell, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Pepper Martin(who did weekly color commentary for both S.F. & L.A. territories television at the same time which has never been equalled), Gene Okerlund, JJ Dillon, Terry Funk and a host of others. Fink said he was thrilled to be part of it and loved Cauliflower Alley. Especially getting to see Bobby Heenan at that same reunion one last time. He also wanted me to tell him about CAC's prior Sportsman's Lodge site being just a block from Jerry's Famous Deli on Ventura Blvd. Jerry's was where Andy Kaufman continued working well into his high-paying role on the tv hit Taxi, claiming it was his "backup plan in case it gets cancelled!" Andy also tried out new material there and often served two comic regulars on ABC's Saturday Night Live knockoff show "Fridays." They were young Larry David and Michael Richards who at the time were in a recurring, popular skit, portrayed two cheating, bleached-blond heel wrestling brothers known as "The Golden Boys." It was based on the on-air character of Southern wrestler Chick Donovan who'd moved from Ole Anderson's Georgia Championship Wrestling to that of Mike Lebell's Hollywood wrestling office centered at the historic Olympic Auditorium downtown. Chick(who entered the ring in all gold besides having gold blitter all over his person, told me at the time how flattered he was besides our homebase office happy at the national recognition. This was when other than Inoki/Ali and Andre appearing on The Tonight Show, we had little general public attention. David and Richards would later go on to create mega history with the Seinfeld NBC show which both Dean and Fink listed as their favorite tv sitcom. Of course both Dean and Howard created their own mega wrestling histories.
We are all heartbroken at the loss of our brothers Dean and Howard.
ABOUT THE AUTHOUR: Dr Mike has been CAC's official photographer for decades and began writing and photographing for all the global newsstand magazines after starting out as one of the program photographers for both the L.A./Lebell and S.F./Roy Shire offices. His images of wrestling, boxing and MMA shot around the world have also been used in most wrestling books and documentaries. He also still freelances for WWE while maintaining his national radio show and newspaper column