April 21, 2007 - CAC Awards Dinner
Las Vegas, Nevada
Riddle - A Brief Biography
by Lee Hexum
Rock Riddle grew up in the small North Carolina town of
Burlington. With a population then of about
20,000, it was nestled between
the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic seacoast. The area was most notable
for Burlington Industries, a collection of textile mills that produced
various fabrics and clothing since the early 1920's. The town was a
close-knit enclave where people rarely moved away and spent the majority of
their lives in and around the city.
His dad, Steve, worked 10 to 12 hour days at the
neighborhood pharmacy from the age of 16 until his retirement. His
employment was interrupted for four years while he served in the armed
forces during World War II. His mother, Margie, was a homemaker and oversaw
Rock and his younger brother, Eric. The Riddles owned their home and were an
average, lower-middle-class family.
In many ways, however, Rock felt like an outsider in and
out of society and would often stay in seclusion. Surprisingly, he had few
friends during his adolescence and was a devout loner. He was small as a
child and uncoordinated. During his time in elementary and junior high
school he never showed an interest in athletics and was usually the last to
be chosen for any physical activities. Shy and self-conscious, his biggest
fear was to be called on to have to speak in front of his classmates.
"I would sit in the back of the room and just hope the
teacher wouldn’t ask me to say anything."
In the seventh grade, a classroom bully’s attempt at
sarcasm would unknowingly give Riddle his future name, confidence and
"He’d say to me, ‘Hey, Rock . . . Rock Hudson . . . ha,
ha, ha’ and laugh. I was a "junior", and I never wanted to be the small
version of someone else . . . so when they started calling me "Rock", I felt
as though I finally had my own identity . . . and that was pretty cool."
Finally, the boy who had always felt as if he were from another planet now
relished his newfound individuality.
The Seeds Are Sown
At the age of 14 and while in the classroom one day, he overheard several
boys raving about the previous night’s pro wrestling venue on television.
They spoke of two menacing and maniacal wrestlers named Rip Hawk and Swede
Hanson. Both were big, blond, and intimidating - while methodical in their
assault on their opponents. Their brash, bold style made them one of the
most recognizable "Bad Guy" tag teams during the 1960's and 70's.
It was a
persona they used to perfection during their 16 years as partners.
George Becker and Johnny Weaver were their "Good Guy" counterparts and
fans relished the chance to see them prevail over Hawk and Hanson. During
one on-air performance, the Becker/Weaver Fan Club presented them with
radios and a trophy. In a phony gesture of admiration, Hawk congratulated
the two, asked to see the radio, raised it above his head and smashed it to
pieces on the ground to the crowd’s astonishment.
"I saw that and thought it was great . . . everyone hated them . . .
really hated them, so I decided to start a fan club for them!" Upon its
creation, Riddle adeptly coined the club’s motto –
Fair, Square, Modest
"My sense of humor has always been a little extreme. I still think that
His later enterprises for the club would include making business cards
and fanciful logos on jackets touting the two blond destroyers. During one
particular event in Greensboro, North Carolina, the TV and ring announcer
was so impressed with Riddle’s dedication and savvy that he brought it to
the attention of Hawk.
walked over and started talking to me like a human being. He asked me if I
was serious about the fan club and the wrestling business and told me that
if I was, he would help me." Riddle was allowed to mingle and take several
photos with Hawk and Hanson.
It was here that the seeds for his future in professional wrestling had
With newfound confidence he began to wrestle in high school at the
138-pound weight class and gradually went on to the 145-pound division.
"In high school I was a total rebel. I was pretty unique - I dressed
differently, I acted differently, and I had an unorthodox wrestling style -
I was totally contradictory to everyone else."
Eventually, his intentions of becoming a pro wrestler became known to his
coach, who was less than receptive to the idea.
"In his and many others eyes, amateur wrestling was looked upon with
admiration and respect while professional wrestling was not something you
looked on with pride . . . it wasn’t taken seriously."
As his first year of college began in Florida, Riddle was eating double
amounts of breakfast, consuming multiple cans of nutritional drinks in
between classes, and continued a rigid weight training routine.
"Every night I would weigh myself, and if I hadn’t reached my projected
goal, I would drink lots of milk - sometimes a whole gallon - to make the
After less than a year of preparation and training, he reached his target
– a muscular 236 pounds.
Meanwhile, he earned an income performing private detective and
surveillance work – and three years later left the university with a degree
in Criminology and Law Enforcement.
Realizing a Dream
Now out of college and 20 years of age, he would make his first
professional wrestling venue in Tampa, Florida. It was a tag-team event and
it was his first encounter in an actual wrestling ring.
"It was my first time in a professional wrestling ring. I didn’t know how
to hit or bounce off the ropes. So, the first time I got
thrown into them, my body went through the ropes, backwards, out of the ring
and onto the concrete floor." Riddle landed on the back of his head and
To the amazement of the officials and onlookers he was unharmed. He would
gradually incorporate some of the abrasive styles that several top wrestling
‘heels’ had used before him.
"I would come into the ring with the blond hair, the sunglasses, the
fancy velvet robes, and the ‘attitude’ . . . I would look down my nose at
the fans and act like I was God’s gift to women . . . it was a wonderful
character I created."
In his mind, like everything, it was simple marketing.
Click on any of the
photos on this page to enlarge
"I was never a great technically skilled wrestler, but I was a good
wrestler and I was good on the microphone . . . and I had showmanship. I had
the complete package . . . and that’s what made the difference."
One marketing ploy he devised was to have a friend pose as a fan,
purchase Riddle’s picture, and have Rock autograph it at ringside.
Afterwards, the "disgruntled fan" would tear the picture to pieces to
Riddle’s obvious dismay. Seeing his negative reaction, other fans would rush
to the back of the building to buy his picture and do the same.
"It’s all crowd psychology. If I could make them dislike me, they would
continue to return and pay their money over and over hoping they would
eventually see someone defeat me."
Riddle made the wrestling circuit traveling around the country, and for
short periods of time was based out of Tampa, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Dallas,
Nashville, Memphis, Pensacola, Charlotte, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and
"You were based in one area for a period of time, and when you became too
familiar to the crowds you went elsewhere. It always had to be exciting and
fresh . . . and there was only so much you could show everyone."
It was not uncommon for Riddle to drive hundreds of miles to a venue to
wrestle, only to turn around and drive back after it had ended.
"On one occasion, I drove from Minneapolis to Winnipeg, Canada, wrestled,
and returned home. I was scheduled to work the next evening at Chicago’s
International Amphitheatre, which was 444 miles one way, where again I
wrestled and returned home as soon as the match was over."
He would often perform 7 to 10 times a week, as many as three times a
day, and all at different locations. Many of the venues alternated between
live television shows and house matches. A typical day may have consisted of
performing a live one-hour television show in Pensacola, Florida, then on to
Alabama for another and finally on to a third location that evening for a
regular, non-televised show at an arena.
"Normally you would have a wrestling ring set up in a television studio
for the live TV matches. You could normally seat 100 or 200 people for the
televised matches. The wrestling shows always got great ratings and helped
to build sold-out arena matches."
And he never missed a venue.
On one occasion, while touring the southern part of the country, the car
he was riding in broke down and time was critical. He and his partner
flagged down a passing police car and they were hustled to the county line
on a code three emergency. Once there, another waiting police escort sped
them into town for their performance.
He would eventually wrestle most of the big
names of the era including Lou Thesz, Andre the Giant, Pat Patterson, Jerry Lawler, Haystacks Calhoun, Ric Flair,
Harley Race, Vern Gagne, Red Bastien, Jack Brisco, Dory and Terry Funk, Ted
DiBiase, John Tolos, The Iron Sheik, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, "Judo" Gene Lebell,
Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Gorgeous George Jr., Greg Valentine,
Dusty Rhodes, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Ray Stevens, Pedro
Morales, Superstar Billy Graham, Mondo and Chavo Guerrero, and many more.
At the height of his career he was billed as the main event at the
Mobile, Alabama Coliseum. The semi-final event was the Heavyweight
Championship of the World, which pitted Jack Brisco against Ken Mantel.
Brisco, an Oklahoma native, had held numerous heavyweight titles and was
widely regarded as one of the most talented and respected wrestlers in the
While traveling the country in 1976, Riddle unexpectedly found himself in
the film capital of the world.
With no developed acting talent, however, he decided to first analyze
everything from a business perspective.
He collected volumes of information on many of the major producers,
directors and casting directors in town. Additionally, he made himself aware
of many upcoming pictures or television shows that were casting.
Finally, after 8 ½ months of intense and exhaustive research, he set out
to find employment.
His first audition was for a co-starring role in an upcoming motion
picture. Riddle was asked to read several lines from a script to an audience
of producers and casting directors.
"So, of course, I began to read this script to myself . . . silently!"
The executives burst into laughter, unaware that he was unfamiliar with
the audition process.
first movie credit was "also starring" with Robin
Williams. Click the icon above and look at the photo in
the upper left corner. Rock's photo was on the box for
both the VHS and DVD versions.
They were impressed by his charm and innocence, though,
and he was later given a role
where he worked alongside a little-known comic actor - Robin Williams.
As his confidence and knowledge of the business increased, so did his
workload. Over the next 2 ½ years he would appear in eight feature films and
more than 30 television shows with principal, co-starring or starring roles.
One television program that Riddle made numerous appearances on was "The
Created in 1976 by its host, Chuck Barris, it was a zany variety show
where the most bizarre acts were critiqued by a panel of celebrity judges.
Contestants were given points on a scale of one to ten. If their act was
deemed horrific, any one of the judges would bang a giant gong signaling the
unfortunate end of their performance.
In one of his skits, Riddle wore a Mexican sombrero and, with maracas in
hand, was situated on a platform, singing and dancing around while trying to
undo himself from a straight jacket and leg irons.
"My female assistant was holding a black drapery in front of me. The
audience could see me struggling against the fabric before I finally fell to
the floor and down a couple of stairs. Now, that’s comedy."
"The Gong Show"
"The New Soupy Sales Show"
"The Gong Show Movie"
"The Dating Game"
In yet another, he played a conceited wrestler who, while singing "Hold
Me", would break boards in half with his bare hands and body-slam and
elbow-drop a dummy in between pauses in the song.
TV Guide "The Gong Show"
He revived his "Gong Show" wrestling character for the
TV series "Fernwood 2-Night", which was later renamed "America 2-Night."
Produced by Alan Thicke and starring Martin Mull and Fred Willard, the
program was a parody of many of the popular talk and variety shows of the
1970s. Riddle guest-starred in the recurring role of "Rock Mondo" and
was asked to return for a second season, but other commitments prevented him
from doing so.
His major films included the Paris Film Festival Best-Picture
Winner, "Blue Collar" with comedian Richard Pryor and actor Harvey Keitel. A
dark and gritty film, it centered on several Detroit, Michigan autoworkers
who, along with their colleagues, were continually exploited by upper
management and a corrupt union. Their existences were meager and they were
all part of a larger situation that was beyond their control.
Riddle played a
blond, muscular thug working for the union.
"The Stanley Siegel Show"
In yet another,
he worked with
Danny De Vito
in a movie entitled
In 1976 Riddle began bodybuilding at what was then Holiday Health Spa in
Hollywood. There he would often encounter Sylvester Stallone, who, at the
time, was filming the movie "Rocky."
"We would do this kind of rough and tumble routine where we would pretend
that we were about to come to blows over who was going to use certain
weights for their next set. People would start to cautiously back away from
us. It was very funny."
In "Paradise Alley", a later picture that would also star Stallone,
Riddle was asked to choreograph the wrestling scenes and landed a small role
in it as well.
In late 1976 he began working out at World Gym in Santa Monica, before it
later moved to Venice. He worked out alongside many of the top bodybuilding
stars of the time. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Tom Platz, Frank
Zane, and even the first Ms. Olympia, Rachel McLish, were all regular
"On a typical day I would work out with at least
seven or eight former or
current Mr. Universes or Mr. Olympias."
TV Sitcom Pilot
The Ultimate Product
While Riddle was acting in the late 1970's,
many of his actor colleagues were unable to find steady work. They came to
realize, as he had years before, that promoting oneself was a vital
component to being successful in any occupation.
Riddle knew that as humans, none of us necessarily bought the BEST
products or services, but rather, we bought what was MARKETED the best.
"We no longer have the choice of renting VHS or Beta cassette tapes at
our video stores. Clearly, the Beta machine had more lines of resolution and
was an infinitely better machine. But it was never promoted well and as a
result, they no longer exist."
He knew that in show business, like anything else, having the talent
alone wasn’t nearly enough.
People had to know that you existed.
"And, in acting, you are selling the ultimate product. Yourself. And,
once you sell that product, you still maintain ownership of it, and every
time it’s sold, generally speaking, it becomes more and more valuable."
With the encouragement of several associates, in 1976 he formed APS – or
Actors’ Promotional Services. Located in Hollywood, it was initially a
marketing service for a limited number of actors and actresses who needed
more exposure to the industry.
As Riddle’s list of clients grew, in 1979 he left acting and devoted his
full attention to the business of marketing others.
In later years, as his clients increased, so did his services.
Eventually, he would incorporate more aspects of APS to the industry – from
marketing and promotion to networking and support for people on both sides
of the entertainment business – in front of and behind the cameras.
This list would include executive producers, producers, directors,
casting directors, agents, some writers and managers and others in the
Bryan Michael Stoller's "Miss Cast Away" - © 2006
On the set
of the APS Productions feature film "When Wrestling Was Real"
-- Las Vegas, NV. -- © 2011
Collectively, he found that everyone had the same underlying need. They
HAD to network with others in the entertainment field to stay successful.
Today, many APS services include major networking events at private
estates, monthly empowerment luncheons, weekly seminars, audition
preparation assistance, resume services, counseling and career guidance, and
global exposure through the company’s web site,
In addition, an investigative service exists so that clients are made
aware of who is legitimate and honest in the business.
After 29 years in operation, Riddle’s efforts have led to producers
acquiring financing for film and television projects. Also, directors and
casting directors have been hired, co-productions have been started, and
hundreds of actors and actresses from APS have been hired for principal,
co-starring and starring roles in film and television.
As a producer, he has produced 17 half-hour cable television shows and
one pilot episode. Currently, he is working on producing several major
As the president of APS, Riddle has spent more than
100,000 hours of his
time involved in research and marketing for his company and continues to do
Rock Riddle & Dino De
Laurentiis - May, 2004
Rock Riddle &
May 27, 2004
Rock Riddle & Jeff Bridges
December 15, 2004
Rock Riddle & Ray Harryhausen
January 28, 2005
Personalities in this photo include
Gordon Hessler, John Phillip Law, Ray Harryhausen,
Rock Riddle, Michael Callan,
("Mrs. Howard Hughes") Moore
[To the right, out of frame, was
Paul Maslansky] --
January 28, 2005
Bryan Michael Stoller, Rock Riddle,
Philippe Mora - March 13, 2005
Curtis Harrington, Rock Riddle, Shelley
Winters - July 28, 2005
Multiple Academy Award Winning
Producer/Director/Writer Paul Haggis and Rock Riddle
April 5, 2006
Dom DeLuise and Rock Riddle -- May 5,
The legendary Forrest J. Ackerman,
Producer/Director Paul Davids, Donald F. Glut &
Rock Riddle -- at a private screening at the beautiful private
estate of multiple award-winning producer/director
-- May 11, 2006
Riddle and Randal Kleiser -- taken at Mr. Kleiser's
estate at the private screening of
"I Was a Teenage Movie Maker" -- May 11, 2006
Christopher Knight and Rock
taken at the World Premiere of Bryan Michael Stoller's film "Light
Universal Studios, Hollywood -- July 19, 2006
Legends of Hollywood and the Legends of Professional Wrestling
for Over Fifty Years!
Riddle and Pat Patterson
Hart and Rock Riddle
April 19-21, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
In the 50+
year history of the CAC, the "Reel Honoree Award"
has been presented to less than seventy-five people.
Former recipients include Sylvester Stallone, Jimmy
Cagney, Kirk Douglas, David Carradine, and
Mickey Rooney and approximately sixty-five additional
entertainment industry icons. On April 21, 2007 APS
President Rock Riddle joined those elite industry
notables when he was presented with the Reel Honoree Award of
Mascaras and Rock Riddle
The complete story and dozens of additional photos will be added soon.
Many of the wrestling-related photos on this site are copyright
Photo by Steve Kiefer
Photo by Steve Kiefer
Jack Klugman and Rock Riddle
Hollywood, CA -- April 26, 2007
Many dozens of photos will be added
soon . . .
for example . . . a few recent ones . .
Rock Riddle & Ernest Borgnine
APS Seminar Event - Hollywood, CA - January 4, 2009
Hollywood Legends Kenny Johnson, Lou
with Rock Riddle
With WWE's J.R. (Jim Ross)
With Ex-World Wrestling Champion Harley
and Producer/Actor Tad Atkinson
"Oh, Rock! You
Make My Head Spin!"
Yes, it's the amazing Linda Blair.
In the wrestling ring again last year in
With legendary WWE Superstar
Stone Cold Steve Austin
With the living legend Chad Everett,
producer/writer Milton K. Lewis,
producer/actor Tony Tarantino, actor/associate producer Susan Kennington,
and producer/actor Christopher Showerman (George of the Jungle II).
APS Seminar Event - 1/31/09 - Hollywood, CA
Oh, no . . . Rock actually returned to the
What's next? Rock vs. Rourke?
working out with Ric Drasin - Van Nuys, CA
25+ Years Later It Happens Again
Rock "Mr. Wonderful" Riddle vs. Chavo Guerrero
San Francisco Cow Palace -- October, 2007
"Yep, I'm wrestling the same guy in the same arena
25 years later. At least one of us still looks good!"
. . .
and as time is available, many many more photos will go here . . .
Many of the wrestling-related photos on this site are copyright