Wrestler, Actor, CAC Honoree Pepper Martin in dire health

Wrestler, Actor, CAC Honoree Pepper Martin in dire health

Pepper Martin is one of the original CAC longtimers since the club's sixties inception. The longtime wrestling legend based out of the West Coast had major stints working from B.C. and Calgary down to WA State, Oregon and of course in Los Angeles for Jules Strongbow and later Mike Lebell as well as several stints for Roy Shire in San Francisco. Lou Thesz had enough respect in Pep to give him at, I believe, the 1993 CAC the very first initial draft of Lou's book "HOOKER" to proof for Lou which was about as major as it gets. When Pepper got injured wrestling in the mid 60's in Los Angeles, he transitioned to film and later tv after his actor friend Lee Marvin had him call his agent who agreed to take Pepper on and find him work. Pepper also was groomed by legendary announcer Dick Lane to call matches for TV and soon Dick was able to convince Strongbow to have him do color in what most feel was one of if not wrestling's first color commentators providing in-site, stats and more to Dick. Lane, also a former actor(the Boston Blackie crime film series, a heel spot as shyster on Leave It To Beaver, etc)not not only called wrestling each week in Los Angeles for our Hollywood office, but also called action for Roller Games/Bill Griffith Promotions plus Demolition Derby, all weekly KTLA-channel 5 broadcast shows.

Was extremely depressed getting his call yesterday about being "in hospice with lung cancer this time, and these are my last days." He'd conquered eye cancer some 12 years ago, but still lost an eye in that long battle. He sounded very sharp as always and said "I'm at peace with death, which is coming. My memory, everything's still with me." He just had some trouble getting his oxygen amidst breathing difficulties. Will keep everyone informed but we respect all he's given back to wrestling, sports overall( a great amateur athlete in his day)the arts and was elected to several major leadership roles. There's 24/7 nurses making sure he's not in pain and at least Pep's at home with loved ones. Will call him daily to keep his spirits up and he was in a good mood reminding me that not only was he the first color commentator in the biz since about 1967(unless someone like Dave Brown was doing weekly tv color anywhere before that). "Dick Lane trained me how from scratch how to call a match in the first place after I got injured in the ring and had to take some time off. Word quickly got around the biz and I later did color alongside Hank Renner for (Roy)Shire in San Francisco and also for Harry Elliot and at times for Don Owen all by myself as lead commentator." That amidst Pepper's wrestling and massive Hollywood careers and several Japan tours and more. Pepper was also the one who first told Roy Shire to bring Pat Patterson in from Oregon and Don Owen's promotion beginning in 1966. "He looks and works just like Ray and you can team 'em up, feud them and it'll make nothing but money." It certainly did as Pat and Shire also attested. Most importantly, Pepper has always been a wonderful human being, concerned with others before himself. He assisted CAC's earliest founders with the regular downtown Los Angeles lunches at Little Joe's and The Spaghetti Factory restaurants in the 60's and 70's before we even had the initial single Saturday night awards for wrestlers, boxers and actors(Reel Honorees) at The Sportsman's Lodge in the L.A. Valley. Pepper several times was M.C. co-host and once we moved the annual awards to Vegas in 2000 after co-founder Art Abrams death, several years later Pepper was lead M.C. once our annual event became 3+ full days following the three years that Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay were our M.C.'s. Few can recall their territory days with full clarity the way Pepper Martin has always done.

Pepper said he talked to Gene Lebell two weeks ago and that Gene's not feeling 100% so will also keep everyone aware of what's going on with the equally beloved Godfather of Grappling. Two of our industry's all-time total legends exemplifying excellence in the ring as well as in the arts. Please keep both in your thoughts