REAL NAME: Roland Morrier
BORN: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1914
DIED: August 6, 1981 in Vancouver, B.C.
Ron Morrier may be the most requested biographical topic in the history of SLAM! Wrestling’s Canadian Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. Simply put, he WAS wrestling to anyone who grew up on Canada’s West Coast, hosting All-Star Wrestling on BCTV for more than 20 years.
It was a job to Morrier, one of many in broadcasting that he held right across the country, but he knew that hosting a wrestling show was different somehow, that it brought him closer to the people watching than almost anything else on TV.
“I have come up with a complete generation of people,” Morrier told the Vancouver Sun shortly before his death in August 1981. “I’ve lived in their living rooms, their bathrooms, their bedrooms. You know, they’ve grown up with me. They always say, ‘Jeez, Ron, I hate to call you Ron, but I feel like I know you so well. It’s recognition, and I enjoy it.”
Fans writing in to SLAM! Wrestling used phrases like “consummate professional”, “calm, cool, and collected” and “a pro who was absolutely IMPARTIAL in his duties, calling matches right down the middle” to describe Morrier’s work. The wrestlers aren’t any different in their high regard for him.
Morrier “never distorted the TV picture, he just called it the way it was happening in the ring.,” explained Gene ‘Big Thunder’ Kiniski, who employed Morrier for years behind-the-scenes while verbally sparring with him on the air.
“The guy was around for so long, around sports and professional athletes, that he knew exactly what was happening and he realized there was a right way and the wrong way of doing things,” Kiniski said. “A guy would get bodyslammed, or something would happen, he’d just saw it the way it was. When he did his interviews, he was able to communicate with the wrestlers at ringside after their matches.”
The Mormon giant, Don Leo Jonathan agreed with Kiniski’s assessment of Morrier. “We all held him in pretty high regard.”
Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Morrier was into music and boxing at an early age. He attended Jesuit college in St. Boniface, Manitoba at 14, and following graduation, he went to Montreal, where his parents had since moved. Then it was off to Edmonton with the entire family, where the teenaged Morrier worked in his father’s printing shop.
His skills in French got him his first radio job in Edmonton, the start of a 43-year career in broadcasting. After Edmonton, he spent the next 20 years working right across Canada, with stints in Winnipeg, Montreal, Waltrous, Saskatchewan and even Kingston, Jamaica.
Morrier’s travels and continued work in the media meant that when he arrived in Vancouver in 1959, and eventually starting hosting the wrestling show on BCTV, that he wasn’t a stranger to the behemoths he was interviewing.
“I kind of followed him across the country, over a span of 20 odd years or so,” said Jonathan. Kiniski, too, knew Morrier from Montreal.
Besides hosting the wrestling show at BCTV, Morrier had other duties as well. “I think I’ve done 27 shows here,” he told the Vancouver Sun. Besides the bingo shows, travel shows, hobby shows, straight interview shows and 20 straight years hosting the Kiwanis television auction, Morrier also hosted children’s shows. First he was Mister Ron, then he hosted Fun Fair, Carousel and the Old Dutch Windmill.
Mauro Ranallo was one of those youngsters watching Morrier on TV in B.C. The future host of Stampede Wrestling remembers Morrier well. “I can recall Mr. Morrier being a folksy announcer, very laid back, kind of like Ed Whalen (minus the catch phrases),” Ranallo said. “I think most viewers enjoyed an avuncular relationship with good ol’ Ron. His interviewing style humanized the wrestlers. He’d extol the virtues of the babyfaces while gently teasing the heels. I wouldn’t say he was proficient when it came to calling a match but I don’t think anyone really cared. He was as much a staple of the show as was Gene Kiniski and Don Leo Jonathan.”
Morrier didn’t have any role with the promotion, which was owned and run at various times by a number of people including Kiniski, Sandor Kovacs, Rod Fenton and at its end, Al Tomko.
Kiniski said that he kept Morrier out of the loop, not forewarning him about what was to transpire in the ring. “He’d just come in and say hi to the guys,” said Kiniski. “He had very little contact with the wrestlers at all … he was never a part of wrestling, as such. In other words, he did his TV show, he did his interviews and he never downplayed anybody.”
The wrestlers never gave Morrier trouble. “If I look at the list here, which I get before the show, and see a guy I don’t know, I go to the dressing room and wait for him to come in. I get hold of him and say, ‘I’m Ron Morrier, the host of your show. I don’t care how you do it in San Francisco, but don’t you put your cotton-picking mitts on me. Is that clear?'” he told the Sun.
The shows were generally taped on Tuesdays, and would hype the upcoming cards around the territory. Morrier was a professional, and never cracked up on TV. Except once. Gene Kiniski is more than happy to recall one of his favourite Ron Morrier stories.
Kinji ‘Ken’ Shibuya was a wrestler in the All-Star Wrestling promotion, and as a stunt to prove his toughness, he broke a rock with a judo chop on the show. “So Ron Morrier says to me, ‘You have to admit, that was quite a feat.’ I said, ‘Yes, it was just unbelievable. But if you look at the rock very carefully, Ron, you’ll see Made In Japan.’ And Jesus Christ, he just broke up on TV and the people went crazy. Kenny Shibuya was just livid.” Of course, the house at the following Monday’s card at the Gardens in Vancouver was up thanks in part to the exchange, as Kiniski battled Shibuya.
At the time of his death in August 1981, Morrier was still the host of the All-Star Wrestling program, but was semi-retired from BCTV. But unable to just sit and relax at home, he took another part-time job, and spent a couple hours each days as public relations director for the B.C. Fabricare Association. Morrier even sold cars for 15 months. “[He] had a lot of fans, and sold a lot of cars,” laughed Jonathon.
But in the end, it’s the beginning and end of the All-Star shows that fans most remember. Morrier would always say hello to all the shut-ins at home early in the show, and end the show with something along the lines of “Be the good Lord willing, we’ll see you next week.”
The next week, Morrier would be back, standing patiently while Kiniski gave his rapid-fire interview, rambling on with egotistical intensity about how he was Canada’s Greatest Athlete. It was always Big Thunder who got the last word in, thanking Morrier in his own style.
“And as usual Ron, you did a great job of interviewing me.”
Before Ed Whalen, there was Ron Morrier from All Star Wrestling (BC). He interviewed such greats as Jimmy Snuka, Andre the Giant, Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, The Sheepherders, etc… Was always the consummate professional and played such an important part of Canadian wrestling history.
He was the anchor of much of BC’s greatest 60’s, 70’s wrestling (BCTV) and was involved with many of the “historic” figures of wrestling as we know it today. Could probably get historic footage of these wrestling greats (in their infancy) from BCTV if you tried….
Any Canadian/BC wrestling fan who remembers All Star Wrestling (including Don Leo Johnathan and Fred Asher commercials) would definitely recommend Ron Morrier for the Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame!!! Hey, his interviews with Gene Kiniski were CLASSIC!!!!
Kevin Dynna and Darrell Jaggers
Growing up in Western Canada, there was one hour a week that was rarely if ever missed and that was to watch All Star Wrestling. I saw some great stars and moments on All Star prior to everyone moving on to bigger and better exposure. Ron would be there interviewing everyone and there were some classic memories with honest reactions from Ron. Roddy Piper broke a beer bottle over his own head to get ready for a feud, Dutch Savage challenging for a dreaded coal miner’s match to blow off a feud; Jimmy Snuka going for the Superfly splash off the top, losing his balance and falling to the cement floor: Anytime Don Leo Johnathon-the Ladner Giant came home for a feud; John Tolos coming “home” to clean house etc. I think one thing that always stands out as part of All Star was the close of most interviews featuring Gene Kiniski “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Canadians and American viewing audience for allowing me into your homes via TV and as usual Ron, you did a great job.”
You did do a great job Ron..thanks for hosting some fond memories.
Grant Zwarych, Wrestlindex
Some of the all time best interviews that Ron ever did with with the following.
A. Bulldog Bob Brown – Gift wrapped dog bone
B. The Brute – Picture of Dutch Savage with Band-Aids all over the face.
C. Any thing with Dutch Savage
I remember Dutch Savage slamming Siegfried Stanke’s head into the concrete floor in 1973 at B.C.T.V. studios. Lots of blood, I don’t think poor Ron Morrier knew quite what to think of that one.
I remember watching All-Star Wrestling every week in the mid 70’s with my father. We would make a habit of it every Saturday afternoon. We got the show on cable through CKSO-TV in Sudbury. I don’t think we even had a CTV affiliate here in Sault Ste. Marie at the time.
My dad wasn’t into the antics of the Detroit broadcasts that we got at the time. He even met Lord Layton one time, but wasn’t especially drawn to the style of Eddie Farhat’s (The Sheik) cards at Cobo Hall. He did, however, appreciate the style of Ron Morrier’s broadcasts and the calibre of performance that the All-Star wrestlers put on.
It made for some very enjoyable times for us and it was my only opportunity to see the likes of Don Leo Johnathan, Dutch Savage and Gene Kiniski perform. I also personally enjoyed Eric Froelich and Guy Mitchell.
It was great stuff and Ron Morrier was an essential part of the mix on that program that made it all work. “As usual Ron … you did a great job.”
James Warner-Smith, Sault Ste. Marie, ON