Saturday, March 26, 2022

Adrian Balboa


Adrian Pennino Balboa was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 10, 1950.  By the time she was a teenager, she had lost both of her parents, but older brother Paulie continued to raise her.

After high school, Adrian went to work at J&M Tropical Fish, a pet store in south Philadelphia.  Though normally quiet and reserved, she became fast friends with the store's owner Gloria, who became somewhat overprotective of her friend and employee.

In the fall of 1975, Adrian made her first major sale.  She sold a pair of red-eared slider turtles to local Philadelphia boxer Robert "Rocky" Balboa, who named the pair "Cuff" and "Link."  Balboa would often return to the store for supplies, and over time, he developed feelings for Adrian, much to Gloria's disapproval. Coincidentally, Balboa was also close friends with Paulie, but had never met Adrian prior to her employment. 

On November 25th, Balboa won his first major prize fight, defeating local favorite Spider Rico.  Buoyed by his success, he asked Adrian out on a date.  Although she initially rejected his advances, she ultimately said yes, and they had their first date on Thanksgiving Day at the Philadelphia Ice Arena.

A relationship quickly developed, and the couple were married just three months later, on February 8, 1976 (right).  By this time, Rocky's career had taken off, having already competed against the World Heavyweight Champion, Apollo Creed.  It was a narrow victory for Creed, one that is still debated by boxing historians to this day.  It would ultimately lead to a rematch with a decisive victory for Rocky, now known as "The Italian Stallion."

Prior to this rematch, Adrian gave birth to the couple's only child, Robert Junior.  The birth was not without its complications however, and Adrian spent several weeks in a coma.  Following her recovery, she settled into her new life, wife to the World Heavyweight Champion.

Although the couple had found fame and great financial success, they never forgot where they came from, giving back to the community and participating in charity fundraising events. For their efforts they were awarded the key to the city, and Rocky was honored with a statue on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  In a ceremony for its unveiling, Rocky had planned to announce his retirement from boxing, but he was ultimately goaded into his next major fight, when opponent Clubber Lang insulted Adrian's honor.

By 1985, Rocky was again considering retirement, but soon found himself on the world stage, following the death of Apollo Creed at the hands of Russian boxer Ivan Drago.  Although Rocky vowed to avenge his fallen comrade, Adrian was strongly against this fight, boldly telling her husband he could not defeat Drago.  Ultimately, she was in his corner, joining her husband in Russia for the Christmas Day event.

Though victorious, Rocky was critically injured by Drago, and was advised by doctors to retire once and for all.  The couple also discovered that while they'd been overseas, a shady accountant had swindled all of their savings, leaving them flat broke. 

Devastated by this one-two punch, Adrian convinced her husband to return to their humble beginnings.  They moved back to their south Philadelphia home, and Adrian took on the role of provider, resuming her job at J&M Tropical Fish (left).

In the fall of 2001, Adrian was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments, but was ultimately ko-ed on January 11, 2002.  She was just 51 years old.

Adrian Balboa was laid to rest at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.  

Yo, rest in peace, Adrian.

  • Shortly after Balboa's passing, Rocky opened an Italian restaurant in Philadelphia, which he named Adrian's in her honor.  

  • As of 2022, Cuff and Link are still alive and kicking.

  • APRIL FOOLS!  While the character of Adrian Balboa is completely fictitious, she does have a headstone at Laurel Hill.  The cemetery was used to film scenes for Rocky Balboa (2006), Creed (2015) and Creed II (2018).  After production, Sylvester Stallone donated the prop headstone to the cemetery, which still attracts tourists today.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Saints Preserve Us!


Stafford Alois Repp was born in San Francisco on April 26, 1918.  From an early age, he wanted to become an actor.  Following his high school graduation, he began appearing in a number of stage productions on the West Coast, but world events would soon intervene in his career.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Repp, like many of his generation, opted to serve his country.  He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, where, in addition to his service on the field, he also produced shows to entertain his fellow troops.

After the war, Repp returned to the States and began his acting career.  His first credited role was in the 1954 Spike Jones film Fireman, Save My Child.  He also appeared on many popular television series of the 1950s, including Playhouse 90, The Real McCoys and Dragnet.

Repp was also no stranger to The Twilight Zone, making three appearances in the Rod Serling anthology series.  The most famous of these is the 1962 episode "Nick of Time," which stars an unknown William Shatner as a man obsessed with a fortune telling machine.  Look for Repp as Shatner's auto mechanic.

In 1966, Repp was cast in the role he is most famously remembered for, that of Police Chief O'Hara on the Adam West Batman TV series (right).  It ran for three seasons and 120 episodes, featuring a slew of guest actors who would one day be profiled in this blog, including Cesar Romero as The Joker and Frank Gorshin as The Riddler.

When Batman concluded its run in 1968, Repp continued making guest appearances on television, on such series as I Dream of Jeannie and My Favorite Martian. He also returned to the silver screen, with one of his final acting roles being the 1973 exploitation film Cycle Psycho, also known as Savage Abduction (left).

Repp's final acting role was in a 1974 episode of M*A*S*H entitled "White Gold."  Unfortunately, he'd never see the show himself.  On November 5th of that year, Repp paid a visit to the Hollywood Park Racing Track in Inglewood. The odds were not in his favor that day however, as Repp suffered a fatal heart attack. 

Stafford Repp was laid to rest at Westminster Memorial Park in Westminster, California.

Inscription: Beloved Husband
Location: Block #56 (Remembrance), Section C, Plot #279

Rest in peace.


  • Despite dying in 1974, Repp's final credited role is the 2018 Orson Welles film The Other Side of the Wind.  Welles began production of the film in 1970, intending it to mark his Hollywood comeback.  He would face several setbacks however, and the film remained unfinished following his death in 1985.  It finally premiered on Netflix in 2018.  You can watch the trailer on YouTube.

  • Though seldom used in the series, O'Hara's first name was Clancy.

  • Following Repp's death, his sister established the Stafford Repp Memorial Scholarship for students of his alma mater, Lowell High School, in San Francisco.

  • Though best remembered for his acting roles, Repp's personal fortune actually came from an unrelated business partnership, as he was co-owner of a successful car wash chain.

  • While Repp portrayed Chief O'Hara and other lawmen throughout his career, his brother was a police officer in real life.

  • The Irish brogue that Repp used on Batman was not his normal speaking voice, rather, it was something he brought to the role.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Rod Roddy, Come on Down!


"I could have prevented all this with a colonoscopy, and of course, that's the campaign I've been on since I had the first surgery.  To everybody out there, get a mammogram!  It can happen to men, too."

Robert Ray "Rod" Roddy was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on September 28, 1937.  From a young age, he had an interest in broadcasting, later honing his craft at Texas Christian University. Upon graduation, he began his career as a disc jockey in Dallas.

At this point in his career, he also hosted his own talk show, a call-in series called Rod Roddy's Hotline.  This blogger is unable to determine the content of the series, but as host, Roddy was often the target of death threats.  He had a long-running feud with a frequent elderly caller, nicknamed "Granny Hate," who claimed to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  Attempts to find recordings of this show were unsuccessful.

Roddy got his first big break in 1977, when he was hired to narrate the ABC sit-com Soap (left), replacing broadcasting legend Casey Kasem, who quit the series due to its content.  Confused?  You won't be after watching this.  

From there, Roddy began announcing game shows, something that would define his career.  His first series was called Whew!, which aired for one season in 1979.  Later shows included Battlestars (1981), Hit Man (1983) and Press Your Luck (1983).  In 1983, he also began a three-year run as announcer on Love Connection, with host Chuck Woolery.

In 1985, famed game show announcer Johnny Olson, who had served on The Price is Right (below) for over a decade, passed away.  As producers searched for a replacement, they hired a series of substitute announcers, including Roddy, who was eventually offered the job.  By this point in his career however, Roddy had proven himself a bankable commodity in the industry, so he fought Mark Goodson Productions for big bucks before accepting his signature role.  

For the next 15 years, Roddy had a lot of fun on the series, often appearing in sketches during the showcase showdown (see Trivia below) while creating a fashion sense all his own.  He even surpassed original announcer Johnny Olson, with no plans to retire anytime soon. But unbeknownst to him at this time, his health was in serious jeopardy.  No pun intended.

September 11, 2001, is a date that everyone will remember.  As Americans faced the reality that their nation was under attack, Roddy was facing a personal battle of his own, having been diagnosed with colon cancer.  He took a leave of absence to undergo chemotherapy, returning to the series just one month later.

He was dealt another blow in March 2003, when he was diagnosed with male breast cancer, for which he would undergo a mastectomy.  Upon his recovery, Roddy became a spokesperson for the condition and advocate for early detection (see Quote above).  He'd spend much of 2003 in the hospital however, eventually passing on October 27, just one month after his 66th birthday.

Rod Roddy was buried at Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Fort Worth, Texas.  His marker carries The Price is Right catchphrase.

Location: Peace Section, Lot #103, Space #7
Inscription #1: World's Greatest Announcer: The Price is Right
Inscription #2: Come on Down
Rest in peace.

  • When production resumed following Roddy's death, series host Bob Barker announced his passing with this memorial video.

  • Ironically, when Roddy was first starting in television, he attended a taping of The Price is Right in order to watch Johnny Olson.

  • Of all the announcers to have served on the show, Roddy has thus far held the position the longest, at 17 years.

  • During his time on Press Your Luck, Roddy was witness and commentator to the infamous Michael Larson episode.  If you've never seen it, I highly recommend it.  

  • When Roddy first began on The Price is Right, he wore normal business suits.  After receiving encouragement from host Bob Barker however, he began wearing the more flamboyant outfits he was famously known for.

  • During a 1988 episode, Rod appeared as Rodweena, winner of a showcase showdown beauty contest, beating out expected favorite Dian Parkinson.  Curious?  You can watch the sketch on YouTube.  This blogger demands a recount.