Later in his career, Kline was known as a developer and promoter of new talent which he would manage into the professional ranks. In the 1960s, Klein leased a vacant building which had been the Allen Park Poultry Company where you could buy a live chicken and have it butchered. Kline converted the space into a wrestling school with a workout gym. In addition to teaching wrestling holds, and counter holds, he prepared new-comers for the professional ranks and pro-wrestling's secret code of Kayfabe--the representation of a staged event as genuine and authentic.
Kayfabe required wrestlers to stay in character in the ring and in public and not give away trade secrets. Kayfabe can be considered a verbal non-disclosure agreement. This three-syllable word is a Pig Latin carny term for "Be Fake" spelled backwards. If anyone came backstage who wasn't in the business for example, security or someone else would shout out "Kayfabe!" and the alert would travel through the ranks. Then, the wrestlers would put on their game faces for the press or whomever the interloper was.
In addition to his gym and wrestling school, Klein owned the local Tastee Freeze on Allen Road. Occasionally in the summer, Klein would set up a ring outside next to his gym or ice cream shop and let the kids play on it. Klein and some of his wrestling cohorts would teach the guys some grappling moves. My Allen Park High School friends Mick Osman and Earl Rennie made pocket money helping set up the ring for local promotions. Jack Ulrich remembers setting up and breaking down rings for Klein in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
She did and four months later, Kline--acting as Peggy's manager--introduced her to Big Time Wrestling promoter Eddie (The Sheik) Farhat. What Peggy lacked in speed and wrestling prowess, she made up in bulk and strength. But there were two things Peggy needed to go pro--a gimmick and a stage name.
For a gimmick, Farhat had Peggy primarily wrestle men as a parody of feminism and the growing woman's equal rights movement of the 1970s. For a stage name, Farhat came up with Heather Feather. She wrestled throughout the Midwest, but Detroit was her home base. Feather would hang ringside during a bout and taunt the male wrestlers trying to shame them into a match. Then in an unscheduled ringside interview with the announcer, she would amplify her challenge making the men look weak and cowardly. The crowd loved it. Heather Feather was the first woman to wrestle and pin a man and soon became a fan favorite.
|The Fabulous Moola and her crew.|
Toward the end of her career, Feather wrestled an eight-foot-tall bear in an interspecies match. Victor, the bear, was found as an orphan cub and rescued. Pro-wrestler Tuffy Truesdell purchased the bear and trained him to wrestle humans. Victor wore a muzzle and was declawed. Truesdell and Victor toured the wrestling circuit as a novelty act. The bear was undefeated by over 100 men but could only get a draw against Feather. Once again, she bested the men but left the bear's undefeated record intact.
Heather Feather was one of the featured wrestlers in a wrestling mockumentary called I Like to Hurt People. In a rare break from the Kayfabe code of silence, the film's host Dr. Sonia Freidman asked Feather, "What's a nice twenty-three-year-old-girl doing in this racket?"
Out of character, Peggy answered, "It's really kinda hard to say. There are lots of reasons why I'm in it. Mainly it's a way of proving myself. A way of making me something in life. Have you ever met a girl built like Rosie Grier (famous 1960s football player)? I've been this tall and this weight since I was twelve. I won't lie, it was tough growing up."
When Dr. Freidman asked Feather how long she thought she would last in her chosen profession, she answered truthfully, "A girl can only last as long as she looks young. As soon as she starts looking old, she's done for. A man can do this until he drops dead in the ring." It wasn't long after this candid interview that Heather Feather was released from her wrestling contract. Kayfabe had been violated.