These are my least favorite posts to write. But, this week, one was definitely necessary. This week, we lost four very important figures in both the wrestling and pop culture worlds. These four personalities had a significance for me personally, so I am going to memorialize them here. They are presented here in the order of their passing.
TERRY FUNK – 1944 – 2023
Though Terry Funk had a long and storied career, he will probably be best remembered for his association with the world of hardcore wrestling, most especially in Japan and in ECW, and in WWE for his work with Mick Foley, both as ally and opponent. Many action figures have been made of Terry Funk over the years, but this one is my favorite.
This figure is from the 2005 Jakks Pacific Toy Fair Media Briefing. There were only 100 made of this special “bloody” variant, and they were given out to the members of the media who attended this briefing in New York City. The figure itself is spectacular, as was the norm for the Classic Superstars line. But, that’s not what makes it my favorite figure. What makes it my favorite figure is that this briefing gave me the amazing opportunity to meet Terry Funk.
See, knowing they were giving out this figure at the briefing, Jakks asked Terry Funk to come to the briefing to meet the media (who, of course, were all HUGE WWE fans) and to sign the figure for all the attendees. It was definitely a moment I will never forget and I would like to thank Jeremy Padawer, Genna Rosenberg and Anne-Marie Gill for making that opportunity possible. Terry was so generous and gracious. He really loved interacting with the fans there and you could see how much he loved the business.
BRAY WYATT (Windham Rotunda) – 1987 – 2023
So much has been said about Bray Wyatt already that I don’t know how much I’m gonna be able to add, but I will say that whenever I went to a live show and he was wrestling, the atmosphere was electric. He found a way to reinvent himself over the course of his career not once, not twice, but three times. He also found a way to be edgy and take risks, pushing the envelope to the edge in the PC Era. When I think of him in terms of wrestling, the phrase that keeps coming to mind is “wasted potential.” By that I mean that we will never get to see what this gifted performer was truly capable of becoming. This man is the definition of “gone too soon.” This is my favorite Bray Wyatt figure.
This is the WWE Ultimate Edition “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt figure from Mattel. “The Fiend” was Bray Wyatt’s horrifying alter ego, and one of the most brilliant and unsettling characters ever brought to life. The Fiend was part of some truly unsettling segments on WWE television, pushing the PG boundaries to the hilt. Bray Wyatt was one of the most creative wrestlers I’ve ever seen, and he will be sorely missed. This figure is unique in that it is the only figure of the Fiend to come with his specially commissioned, and truly creepy, title belt.
ARLEEN SORKIN – 1955 – 2023
Arleen Sorkin had a long and prosperous career, but the height of her fame in her early career was a stint as Calliope Jones on the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives. But, to geeks like me everywhere, she will forever be ”Our Harley.” Arleen Sorkin is best known in pop culture circuits as the original voice of, and inspiration for, Harley Quinn, the Joker’s girlfriend, first introduced by Bruce Timm in the incredible Batman: the Animated Series. The character would prove to be so popular that she was introduced into the DC Comic Universe, and currently is not only playing a supporting role in the Batman titles, but has her own solo monthly book. Sorkin would play Harley for the entire BTAS run, as well as in the New Batman Adventures series, and would reprise the role in the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game, before being replaced by Tara Strong for the subsequent Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Knight video games. Technically, there are no figures of Arleen Sorkin, but this is my favorite Harley Quinn figure.
This is the Harley Quinn Expressions Pack from DC Collectibles, and it is my favorite Harley figure because it comes with all of her different facial expressions, as well as her “babies”, her two hyenas, who held a place in her heart second only to “Mr. J.” With this year seeing the death of beloved Batman voice actor Kevin Conroe and now the death of Arleen Sorkin as well, it has been a rough year for BTAS fans, though we still have Kevin Conroy’s final performance as the Dark Knight, in the upcoming Suicide Squad Kills the Justice League video game to look forward to.
BOB BARKER – 1923-2023
However, for me, in terms of people who were a part of my childhood, this loss is the biggest. Bob Barker is such a fixture and has been for so many years, that I don’t need to tell anyone what he is famous for. I can’t count the number of hours as a child that Bob came on the TV in my living room and entertained me with the “fabulous 60 minute Price is Right.” A true television icon, I thought he was fun to watch as a kid. As I got older, and began to understand the complexity of putting on the show every weekday, I marveled at how effortless Bob made it look. Aside from the entertainment factor, Bob was a tireless advocate for animals, and I am pleased to say that my family had every pet we ever had spayed or neutered, just as Bob reminded us to. It’s your turn at the Pearly Gates, Bob, Come on Up.