I received a telephone call just a few minutes ago from my dear friend Darla Staggs that our very dear mutual friend John Sutton, known to the wrestling world as Sir Oliver Humperdink, has died. He was a very young 62 years old. “Hump,” of “Red,”his nicknames as most of his friends in the business called him, passed away from complications stemming from bladder cancer. His past few days were spent in hospice and I am told from people who spoke with him just yesterday that he “was at peace.”
“Hump” was one of those genuine nice guys who no one ever had a bad word to say about in a business where that is so very rare.
My first exposure to him when I worked for the PWI family of magazines. Our West Coast photographer, Theo Ehret, used to send photos of Sir Oliver with his team of “The Hollywood Blonds.” The team consisted of Buddy Roberts and Jerry Brown and Sir Oliver as their manager. After publishing the photos several times he asked Theo for my telephone number and we became fast phone friends. Every week or two he would call and greet me with a “Billy Boy, it’s Sir Oliver!”
I finally got to meet him when he came to the Carolinas for Jim Crockett promotions. We travelled the roads together and it was in one of those rides we came up with the idea of printing membership cards for fans that they could show at arenas that the were “members” of “The House Of Humperdink,” his bad guy stable. On the other end for the “good guys” we thought of “Piper’s Army,” as his “House” was feuding with Roddy Piper and his friends. All fans had to do was send a self addressed stamped envelope to the magazine offices (this became a cover story) and tell us which card they wanted. For months fans waved their cards at either Hump or Roddy from the stands to declare who they supported! What an angle.
Florida, WCW, WWF, were all territories I found myself keeping company with the good Sir Oliver. Sometimes he would just drop out of site to a Florida retreat home he loved and no one in the business would hear from him for months at a time.
I feel so fortunate to have seen him at the NWA Legends Fan Fest last year and speak with him just a short time after his diagnosis.
He was what you see — a jolly guy who loved the business and everyone in it.
We loved you too Hump and will miss you so very much.
Love–”Billy Boy” 3/20/11