Friday, January 04, 2008

Wally George - Father of Orange County

Wally George Hot SeatIf you attended high school or college in Orange County during the 1980s and 1990s, you know all about Wally George.

In the early 1980s, I used to stay up at night to watch his television show, "Hot Seat" on KDOC channel 56. The show, which was billed as a conservative talk show, was anything but. It was instead Wally dragging derelicts in off the street, putting them on air, and then bashing them in Wally's irreverent style.

Teenagers ate the stuff up.

Wal-LY! Wal-LY! Wal-LY!

Perhaps he may not have known it at the time, but teenagers saw him as a rebel, like a high-school principal on coke. He taught his teen audience about moral fiber, but at the same time, showed them the low-life scum they longed to see. He'd bring in these porn actresses, let them strip down to nearly nothing, and then kick them off the set. Hot Seat was a risque show.

Wally reached an all-time high in popularity just a couple of years into his show. I remember in 1984, KDOC gave him a day-time talk show where he fetched calls from his viewers. He would start off by commenting on the news of the day, and then open up the phone lines.

Well on this particular day, it was December 7, otherwise known as Pearl Harbor day. I'm very keen on Pearl Harbor day, because I was born at Pearl Harbor, albeit not on December 7. So when Wally George failed to pay homage to the soldiers and sailors who died in the attack of Pearl Harbor, I decided to call him up. When he answered my call, I said, "Wally, I'm ashamed at you..." And before I could finish he blurted out, "Well I'm, ashamed at you!", and then hung up on me. Then he proceeded to say on television, "How dare he say that he's ashamed at me!".

I remember catching an episode of Hot Seat during the late 1990s, and was amazed to learn that George was still hosting the show live. While he wasn't running the same format, it was still George, albeit an older, more reflective George. I remember feeling kinda sorry for the guy, in that all he had left in life was his show, and intended to hang on to it for as long as his body would allow.

The way I see things, Wally's rise to fame seemed to have coincided with Orange County's rise to fame. Just as Wally began to make a name for himself across the country, so did Orange County. OC wasn't a suburb of Los Angeles anymore, it was its own metropolis. It was developing its own culture, lifestyle, and reputation.

And like Wally, Orange County was conservative, and in the same way Wally associated himself with conservative figures like Pat Boone, John Wayne, Bob Dornan, and Robert Schuller, so did the rest of the United States associate Orange County.

In the end, Wally will be forever known as an eccentric, out of touch with reality, which is exactly what the country thinks of Orange County today.

To me, Wally George is to Orange County as Howard Stern is to New York City. After listenting to Howard Stern, one might have a chaotic and perverted impression of The Big Apple. If New York people listened to Wally George, they might think of The Big Orange as bastion of white picket fences and Stepford wives.

So now that Wally George is dead and gone, what celebrity best personifies Orange County today?


  1. I remember Wally had a picture of Ronald Reagan on the backdrop. His show was quite entertaining. Kinda like the Steve Wilkos show. So is he really dead now?

  2. We watched Wally for a laugh every now and then. I remember there was quite a stir over his daughter (Rebecca Demornay) appearing nude in the movie Risky Business. I also remember seeing him on People's Court. He was sued by the leader of the Drugs Religion, whom Wally had thrown off his show. Wally won.

  3. Wally ! Wally ! Wally ! Got your Wally wig on ? Wally was great ! I watched his show religiously. It started when that Old Marine flipped his desk over. I remember working in LB when that Surfer Guy with the visor came in my store. He was the guy that sang that drug anthem. He was wild and wacky. I last saw Wally at an opening of a restaurant. It was on Beach and Westminster. The whole place was singing Wally Wally OOOOO and yelling Wally, Wally I even have his autograph ! He will be missed he was a great part of OC History.

  4. I remember watching his show as a child in the 80's. I used to like when he would throw off his guests! Anyone remember his sidekicks name, Kennedy something or other?

  5. iWAS ON THE WALLY GEORGE SHOW as a guest and would love to see the clip how do i do that i havent seen it since the night it aured on t.v

  6. remember the song?wally wally whooaa-wo, we gotta go and see your show! saw him at pavilions.heard he lived across the street.

  7. Believe it or not I actually played back up for Wally @ Margaritaville in Newport once. I used to play guitar there on a reg. basis and one night he showed up and walked up to me and asked if I knew the chords to "Kansas City". I was so shocked to not only run into the guy but to have him ask me such a question. I totally disagreed with him politically and basically thought he was just a hate spouting clown, but 5 minutes later THERE IS WAS on stage behind him and he told some story about being in surf bands when he was younger and then singing "Kansas city here I come...." Quite a surreal moment. I don't regret playing on stage with the guy, only that I didn't ask him about Rebecca DeMorney.

  8. I was married briefly,in late 1960 to one of Wally's former wives, Nancy Perch. Their marriage was rocky,I was told, to the point that she actually threatened him with a kitchen knife when he attacked her. I know that he withheld support payment for his son Kerry, and Nancy had to chase him down for payment. I've seen a couple of of his shows, and turned them off in disgust..Worse than Springer! He was a screwball. M/L from Calif.

  9. I was a guest a few times in the late 80s. Today me and 10 other former guests have formed a facebook group called Wally George Alumni where we talk about old memories and what we are doing now. All for fun.


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