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The True Story Behind GLOW, The Groundbreaking Women's Wrestling Show From The '80s

Updated August 15, 2019 15.0k views13 items

In the 1980s, many considered female wrestlers little more than sideshow attractions - until producer David McLane created a groundbreaking TV show called the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. Better known as GLOW, the series evolved women's wrestling by packing matches, comedy skits, and scandalous political commentary into every hour-long episode. 

GLOW's initial wrestlers lacked training, as many were actors or dancers merely looking for their big Hollywood break. But the group of young women prepped for weeks to become professional, and put together a show that dazzled audiences for more than 100 episodes.

So where are they now? The original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling may lead quieter lives these days, but Netflix continues to tell their story. The network's fictionalized spin on the GLOW tale released in 2017, and serves as a surprisingly authentic tribute to the women who changed the face of wrestling forever.

  • The Performers Lived Together In A Hotel

    The Netflix version of GLOW shows the group of women all living together in a run-down motel in Los Angeles, CA. The real women, however, lived in a Las Vegas hotel called the Riviera. The show was even shot there, with a soundstage set up on the premises.

    After a few weeks, the women transferred to nearby apartments. Housed together, producers encouraged the "good girls" and "bad girls" to stay in character as much as possible - even in their downtime. The show's producers controlled every aspect of their lives, with curfews, strict rules, and fines for violations.

  • Though Not Considered A Children's Show, GLOW Became Popular With Kids

    Though Not Considered A Children's Show, GLOW Became Popular With Kids
    Photo: GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling / Connell Creations

    Hugely popular across the country, GLOW appealed to a wide variety of people who found the show empowering. While never intended as a show for kids, the wrestlers of GLOW became role models to many children. The women of the show received tons of mail from young fans, with one boy even stealing his mother's wedding ring and mailing it to Daisy actor Helena LaCount.

  • The Show Took A Huge Toll On The Performers, Physically And Mentally

    Although the show seemed glamorous, the performers of GLOW made many sacrifices for their jobs. The physical toll manifested first, as the wrestlers trained for around 10 hours each day, working out in the gym and drilling moves.

    As time went on, however, many of the stars also struggled with how the show affected their personal lives. Lori Weathers, the woman who played Ninotchka, got engaged at one point during the show's four-year run. But when Weathers's fiancé realized how different she was from her character, he broke up with her.

  • The Show's Directer Specialized In "Schlocky, Campy" Films

    By the time the GLOW producers approached director Matt Cimber, he was already infamous in Hollywood. With years of experience directing, Cimber possessed a reputation for creating "schlocky" and "campy" films. The director developed many of the GLOW characters, taking existing aspects of the women's personalities and amplifying them - often into stereotypes. Though loved by some of the performers, others found Cimber intimidating and didn't appreciate him publicly criticizing their bodies.

    In Netflix's version of GLOW, Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) closely reflects the role that Cimber played in the making of the show.