One of the best friends I ever had passed away in April. My longtime pal, the one and only Johnny Valiant, lost his life in a freak accident. Johnny was strong, smart, funny, and creative. He was one of those rare guys you meet – maybe once or twice in a lifetime – that you believe can do anything. He was unstoppable. He was such a powerhouse, such a force of nature, such a larger than life personality … it was easy to convince yourself he’d be around forever.
When I was sixteen years old, I sat in the audience at Madison Square Garden and watched him wrestle Andre the Giant in the main event. Johnny Valiant was a world renowned pro wrestling champion, manager, and broadcaster. He became an accomplished actor, stand-up comic, and stage monologuist in his post-wrestling days. He was the subject of a terrific documentary film too. He was always active. He was a do-er. He even wrote and performed a one-man seriocomic stage show, something many actors think about doing – but very few actually accomplish.
The play, “An Evening with Johnny Valiant,” was a cornucopia of my friend’s stories, anecdotes, one-liners, and hilarious – often bizarre – tales of the road. I spoke with Johnny a couple of times about putting his stories together into a book. I know it would have been a great read. Somehow, though, this became one of those well-intentioned projects that never made it past the talking stage. Now I wish I’d encouraged my friend more actively to write that book … because I wish I could hold that book in my hands today.
There’s a sobering lesson to be learned from the passing of my world-famous friend and brother. Even for the greatest among us, life is short and unpredictable. So if there’s something you’re thinking about doing – do it now.
Dr. Wayne Dyer said it best: “Don’t die with your music still in you.”
Write your book. Make your movie. Put together that one-person stage show. Don’t put it off for another year. Next year may be one year too late.
Scenes for Teens
Acting Scenes for Kids and Tweens
Monologues for Teens