Bull Montana


Lewis Montagna (born Luigi Montagna; May 16, 1887 – January 24, 1950), better known as Bull Montana, was an Italian-American professional wrestler, boxer and actor.[1][2][3]

Bull Montana
Montana aboard ship, 1922
Birth nameLuigi Montagna
Born(1887-05-16)May 16, 1887
Voghera, Italy
DiedJanuary 24, 1950(1950-01-24) (aged 62)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Bull Montana
Billed height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Billed weight250 lb (113 kg)
Billed fromLos Angeles, California
Trained byGene Dundee

Biography edit

Born in Voghera, Italy, into a poor country family — and at a time when Italy was a predominantly rural country — with limited prospects, at 19 years old, Montagna made the decision to move to the United States. He arrived in New York in 1906 and continued to do heavy work there, first in Connecticut at a stone quarry and then in a Pennsylvania mine. Having also practiced Greco-Roman wrestling since childhood, after a few years he entered the professional wrestling circuit (better known at the time as "catch as catch can"), taking the name of Bull Montana as a pseudonym. At the same time he also became a boxer, where in 1916 he was called to act as sparring partner for Jack Dempsey, then world heavyweight champion. Among his friends was Abe "The Newsboy" Hollandersky, boxer, wrestler and extra in the cinema, who according to some supported Montagna in helping him fly his autobiography in 1930.[4] In the early 1920s Montana often wrestled with his friend Jack Dempsey prior to some of Dempsey's larger fights to help entertain the press and spectators.[5]

Montana in 1918

In 1917, in a New York gymnasium, he was noticed by producer Douglas Fairbanks, who wanted him next to him in the film In Again, Out Again; from here he entered the world of cinema and in 1919 appeared as a macabre villain in Maurice Tourneur's masterpiece Victory, alongside Lon Chaney. In 1921 he was finally granted US citizenship and changed his full name to Lewis Montagna. From 1922 he became the protagonist of a successful series of parodies produced by Hunt Stromberg. In 1925, given his size and his appearance, he was given the part of the ape-man in the film The Lost World, probably the part that gave him the greatest fame. Montagna's fortune increased by collaborating first with Rodolfo Valentino in the films The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Son of the Sheik, then with Buster Keaton in Palooka from Paducah. He continued to act until the late thirties, mainly playing antagonist parts, similar to Louis Wolheim; he was also seen alongside Buster Crabbe in the 1936 series Flash Gordon. In his film career, which lasted from 1917 to 1937, Montagna took part in nearly 90 films.

Personal life edit

Once he became wealthy enough, never having forgotten his origins, in 1922 he returned to Italy, finding his mother and staying for about a month. Despite his physical appearance and background as a wrestler, Bull Montana was always considered a gentleman for the kind and polite ways that distinguished him in his life.

In 1924, he met the dancer Jackie LaVerne, originally from Georgia, with whom he lived until 1928 when Montagna denounced her and had her arrested for hitting him on the head with a slipper. The woman was sentenced to 60 days in prison but she only served two as Montagna himself paid her $ 00 bail and asked the judge to overturn the guilty verdict and the prison sentence. The judge commuted the 2-year probation sentence and Montana permanently split from LaVerne.

In 1929 he met Mary Mathews Poulson, a young widow of 23, with whom he was married on September 21 of the same year; the marriage ended in a divorce on August 21, 1931.[6]

Bull Montana died on January 24, 1950, in Los Angeles at the age of 62. His body was buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.[1][2]

Selected filmography edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Bull Montana Dead. Actor And Wrestler". The New York Times. January 25, 1950.
  2. ^ a b "Bull Montana". All Movie Bio. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  3. ^ "Bull Montana". Bull Montana All Movie Filmography. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  4. ^ Hollandersky, Abe (1958). The Life Story of Abe the Newsboy, Hero of a Thousand Fights, Published by Abraham Hollandersky, Los Angeles, p. 388.
  5. ^ Dempsey wrestled Montana in "Dempsey Finishing Heavy Ring Work", The New York Times, New York City, page 2, 27 June 1921
  6. ^ "Bull Montana".

External links edit

  • Bull Montana at IMDb
  • Bull Montana at Virtual History