During pro wrestling's golden revival in the 1980s, there were few stars in the field more outrageous, more silver-tongued or more flamboyant than Jesse "The Body" Ventura. One of wrestling's bad boy villains and always a fan favorite, Jesse -- born George Janos on this date in 1951 -- has enjoyed a career path far different from his other wrestling colleagues. From his life as a Navy demolition expert to motorcycle-riding tough guy to professional wrestler to actor to activist to political candidate to U.S. governor to crusading TV host, Jesse Ventura entered the public eye almost forty years ago and has never found himself out of it since.
Always articulate and quick, Jesse's keen sense of people and issues made him a natural for politics, or maybe it was his days as a pro wrestler that made politics so familiar to him, as he explained here: in 2012:
Jesse was probably the most fun to watch when he was in the ring. I met him at a NATPE convention in the early 1980s and he was amazing, funny and clearly gifted. Here are some clips from his hilarious years as Jesse "The Body" Ventura, beginning with one from 1978:
After cutting his ring career short for health reasons (though he continued with a long successful run as a ringside color commentator), Jesse's natural charisma made a try at acting a natural choice. He had substantial roles in 1987's Predator and The Running Man, and in 1991 made a television pilot for a buddy cop show called Tagteam co-starring fellow trying-his-hand-at-acting pro-wrestler pal Rowdy Roddy Piper (my all-time favorite wrestler!):
Next came Jesse's political career which culminated in his winning 1998 election for governor of Minnesota, Though he did not run for a second term, he remains a people's favorite whom many would love to see throw his cap back into the ring.
Instead, Jesse has devoted his time to a different kind of TV career, this time as host and creative mover behind Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura which aired on TruTV for three seasons beginning in 2009. From the outrageous to the more credible and chilling government security issues, Ventura's show was vibrant, always fascinating and certainly never dull.
What would a show about conspiracy theories be without one of its own? Along with allegations of buried episodes and censorship, Ventura had concerns that the ultimate cancellation of the series was a result of government silencing efforts. Read about that at the link available here. Thanks to the internet the episodes of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura are still available to view even though TruTV no longer hosts them at their site.
Jesse's current project is Off the Grid with Jesse Ventura now airing on ORA.tv, with more political, social and historical commentary from Ventura and his selection of guests. Click here for Off the Grid's YouTube Channel. Here's an example of Jesse's trademark cut-through-the-crap approach to campaign financing:
Right at this very moment Jesse Ventura is in the news because of a lawsuit he brought against the late Navy Seal sniper hero Chris Kyle (remember when he was killed at a shooting range by a disturbed veteran in 2013?) who had alleged in his memoir that he punched out Ventura in a bar fight. Ventura claimed this false story caused damage to his professional reputation and resulted in loss of income. Click here for a particularly good explanation of the whole situation from the Washington Post. Never a dull moment, right?
Unique personalities are rare people, and Jesse Ventura is the genuine article.
Happy 63rd Birthday today, Jesse Ventura!