WWE Diva Rewind: The Story of the Fabulous Moolah

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IMarch 27, 2009

Her dad didn't even want her to become a wrestler.

On a farm in Kershaw, S.C., Mary Lillian Ellison was born to her parents, Mary and Henry—the 13th child and the only little girl.

Her mother died of cancer when Lillian, as she was called, was only eight, and she was forced to work on a farm just two years later.

In order to cheer her up, her father would take her on Tuesday nights to go see the local wrestling shows.

No one could've known it'd be the start of the most successful careers for a female in wrestling history.

But it almost didn't happen at all. Ellison married at 14 and had a daughter during the two-year marriage. Against her father's wishes of staying home and raising the baby, she set off to make her wrestling dreams come true.

Ellison was first known as "Slave Girl Moolah," but she didn't start out as a wrestler—like several female stars of the time, she began as a valet for wrestlers like Elephant Boy and the original "Nature Boy," Buddy Rogers.

It was when Ellison transformed from the "Slave Girl" to "Fabulous Moolah" that she became champion, which occurred in 1956 when she won a female battle royal to win the Woman's World Title.

And if you thought she'd win and lose it like they seem to do nowadays, well...you're simply wrong.

In fact, Moolah didn't drop the title for ten years. That's right wrestling fans, Moolah was the dominant woman in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), dropping the Undisputed Women's championship to her sister-in-law, Betty Boucher, in 1966, winning it back the following week.

Moolah was also the first woman to ever be allowed to wrestle at the historic Madison Square Garden.

Much of Moolah's success can also be accredited her to owning the rights to her own title.

The Fabulous Moolah became what was then a WWF Superstar in 1983, becoming the WWF Women's Champion. Her first major feud was with pop star Cyndi Lauper and Wendi Richter, where Moolah was billed as having the championship for more than 30 years.

However, that technically wasn't the case. While Moolah's longest time without the title was no more than a few weeks, she had officially been a champion for six years, losing the title to Richter on MTV's The Brawl To End It All in 1984.

After losing the title to WWE Hall of Famer "Sensational" Sherri Martel in 1987, Moolah became semi-retired, though she did captain a team at the first Survivor Series, where her team (herself, Rockin' Robin, Velvet McIntyre, Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno) defeated Martel's team (Martel, Judy Martin, Dawn Marie, Leilani Kai and Donna Christanello).

After her retirement, Fabulous Moolah made some appearances on WWF television, but otherwise made no wrestling appearances.

She became the first woman to ever be inducted into what is now the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995.

Since her induction, Moolah, and Hall of Famer and trainer Mae Young, began to appear again on television, from having a guitar smashed over her head, getting an RKO, to wrestling the divas of today like Victoria.

In her later years, the Fabulous Moolah wrote her autobiography, The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle and lived in Columbia, S.C., with Young until her death in 2007.