North Hills resident Tom Sullivan, a/k/a “Luscious” Johnny Valiant, passed away yesterday after a traffic mishap on McKnight Road. He was 71.
I knew Sullivan as a WWE Hall-of-Famer and all-time great tag-team wrestler, one-half (or one-third) of The Valiant Brothers.
But I also knew him as a comedian and youth baseball coach. Sullivan was a long-time Ross Township resident.
The first time I met Johnny Valiant, it was to interview him for the Post-Gazette in 1979. I was 18.
“Kayfabe” is the concept, now mostly ignored, that wrestlers never break character or acknowledge the fakery.
On that day, “Luscious” Johnny refused to break kayfabe.
Me: “Johnny, you live in the North Hills…”
Valiant: “Nope. New York City.”
Me: “Really? Because I’ve been told…”
Valiant: “Nope. New York City. Just like it says in the program.”
It didn’t make for a great interview. But we laughed about it years later.
Tom Sullivan/”Luscious” Johnny Valiant was a good man. He will be missed.