The Fabulous Fargos

Name: The Fabulous Fargos
Year Inducted: 2014

Jackie and Don Fargo

Jackie and Don Fargo were the original pretty boy heel tag team—cocky, hip, cool, and thoroughly despised. During their four years as an established team from 1956 to 1960, the Fabulous Fargos were sensations wherever they set foot, from New York to Georgia to the Carolinas to Tennessee. Even after they went their separate ways, they reunited in the south from time to time and had another huge run in Tennessee in 1964-65.

“All I had to do was walk in the ring and they’d go crazy,” said Jackie, who died in June 2013. “We could wrestle the devil and we would have been the heels.” Added Don: “When me and Jackie were together, we were the greatest team. That sounds like bragging, but we had a good thing going.”

A North Carolinian by birth, Jackie was the original Fargo. He started wrestling in the early 1950s for Johnny Long in the Carolinas. Part of the reason for his popularity was his unorthodox approach to showmanship as Honey Boy Fargo and Wildman Fargo. “I had long blond hair and I wore a bone in my hair and would do anything goofy, pick up a big black lady, and sit in her lap and kiss her, stuff like that, just a wild man,” Jackie said.

Don Fargo, born Don Kalt, has had more aliases than a CIA operative in the Middle East. Born in Germany in 1928 and raised in Hells Kitchen in New York City, he started wrestling after a stint in the Marines. Kalt gave credit for his career to former world champion Buddy Rogers, whom he met during his time in Columbus, Ohio. “He was my idol. I mirrored him a little bit. He didn’t mind because I was doing such a good job of it,” said Kalt, who first worked as Don Stevens, brother of future blond bomber Ray Stevens. Later he was Jack Dalton, Jack Dillinger, and Pvt. Don Fargo.

The Fargos headed to New York independently of each other in the winter of 1956-57, and promoter Toots Mondt gave his stamp of approval to the team. “We both had blond hair, long blond hair before anybody had it. Back in the ’50s, everybody had a crewcut,” said Don. “We started dressing exactly alike, we wore everything alike, the underwear, the socks, our rings, our watches. We even had earrings back then which nobody did.”

The highlight of the team’s early years came in March 1957, when the Fargos (Don as Don Stevens), working as world tag champions, squared off with Argentina Rocca and Miguel Perez in front of a capacity crowd in the old Madison Square Garden. They also had success in Chicago and were big names in the southeast, where they were the team to beat in the late 1950s.

The team slowly broke up over time. Jackie became an icon in Tennessee, almost as much a part of Memphis lore as Elvis Presley, and brought Jerry Lawler into wrestling. Don wrestled as Jack Dalton as part of the Dirty Daltons at the same time he paired with Jackie in the mid-1960s.

While Jackie and Don are the most remembered, there were several other Fargo teams. Jackie frequently brought in his real-life brother, “Roughhouse” Sonny, to Tennessee at a moment of pitched battle. Don recreated the Fargos with a boyish Greg Valentine in Texas and the Great Lakes area in 1971 and 1972.

 

-Steve Johnson and Greg Oliver



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