Johnny King (1961)



1 ABC championship (1963-CT)

1 PBA title


33 Responses to “Johnny King (1961)”

  1. Nathan Kill Says:

    When I was about 20 I got into a late-night pot game at Ridge Bowl, which is what Faetz & Niesen was called by 1970. I didn’t know most of the other bowlers, there were about six of us. Johnny King was one of them. I was too young to know who he was, until one of the others told me he had been a big bowling star on television in this same bowling center. I remember he and I took most of the money and when the others quit, Johnny King wanted to bowl me for what was left. I had about $200 for the night, so I said no and took my money home. I never saw him there again.

  2. Nathan Kill Says:

    He went through five or six big cigars. I think they were Dutch Masters.

  3. John Uffer Says:

    I remember as a kid in the 50’s watching bowling on TV. It was king-of-the-hill format, high 3 game series. The winner would come back the next week and face a new opponent. Johnny King was king for a number of weeks. I still remember watching him bowl an 850 series with a 300 and 290 game. He actually threw the ball with a cigar in his mouth. Whispering Joe Wilson was the announcer.

    • Don Barrett Says:

      I’m working on a documentary that includes Johnny King and other old time bowling stars. Johnny’s series high on “Bowling Stars (1956) was 813. Nobody bowled 850 for three on TV until 1996 when Bob Learn Jr. shot 850. The previous TV record was Carmen Salvino’s 846.

      • J.R. Schmidt Says:

        Tom Hennessey also rolled 846 at Faetz-Niesen on Jan 13, 1957–but on live TV, not film. (SOURCE–Bowling, Sep 1957, p. 118). Good luck with the documentary, and let me know if I can help.

      • Don Barrett Says:

        Thanks for the info. You’re going to love this show. We have Salvino’s 846, a copy of which Carmen loaned us and Steve Nagy’s 300. That’s just the beginning…

      • Don Barrett Says:

        Thank you, JR. I will turn to you as we continue along. This is a serious project. I’ve been working in film and television as a writer-producer-director for 37 years. We are doing the project with the assistance of the PBA, USBC and BPAA. If you’re interested in a story regarding the project, please let me know.

  4. george kling Says:

    He and Salvino were, quite simply, the MOST electrifying bowlers at Faetz/Niesen. Best was when they bowled one another–one of the GREATEST matches on the old “Bowling Stars” show. If anyone has the “King/Kristof” 1957 match (from a few weeks earlier) on 16mm, I’d pay big bucks. G.K.

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      Walter Schwimmer had the rights to the “Championship Bowling” film series, which you can now rent from the Bowling Museum. The Museum has only one complete “Bowling Stars” show–King versus Welu. A friend of mine told me that the Niesen family still has all the old films of “Bowling Stars,” but doesn’t want to go to the trouble of converting them. And yes, I’d pay the big bucks for them, too.

      • Don Barrett Says:

        Not quite accurate. We were able to obtain other episodes of Bowling Stars for the documentary.

  5. george kling Says:

    Thanks to J.R. for attempted info.; actually, a couple of years ago, contacted R. Niesen and I discovered he “threw” them all away following his exodus to Tenn. Oh, well.

    • Don Barrett Says:

      You’re going to love the show I’m working on, because we have clips from Bowling Stars, Championship Bowling, even Celebrity Bowling and the documentary – well we’ve already interviewed ten members of the Hall of Fame and about 35 top touring pros.

      • J.R. Schmidt Says:

        This is marvelous. Years ago I taped interviews with 11 Hall of Famers. Joe Kristof, Dick Hoover, Tony Lindemann, and Dick Hoover have passed on since then, but the Bowling Museum still has the recordings, in case they would be any help.

  6. Donald H Smith Says:

    JR SCHMIDT I am interested in bowling stars T.V match John King versus Welu let me know if it is available SINCERELY DON SMITH.

  7. Jim Says:

    Anyone out there have anything that he signed like a program or a pin??… I need his autograph for my collection as well…

  8. Gene Paolucci Says:

    Johnny King was a star early in the TV bowling era of the 50’s before the PBA. He used to drift left to right on the approach, turn it hard and the pins would fall in fear! Same with Salvino. Great matches. The thing that kept King from becoming a bowling all time great was his expertise as a gin rummy player. He made more money playing cards than he did from bowling. Great memories of the Welu-KIng match with whispering Joe. Thanks for posting it. These were the days of my youth and my start of a 57 year love affair with bowling . Great times.

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      I’ve heard many Johnny King stories in my 25 years writing bowling. More than one old-timer told me King could have won the World’s Invitational in 1957–but he stayed up all night playing cards, and faded to 4th place. Of course, it’s possible he made more money from the cards than he would have winning the tournament.

    • Don Barrett Says:

      Just looked at a another match on Bowling Stars – Johnny King vs Tony Lindeman. It’s in amazing shape. The Salvino 846 series is suffering from a bad film to tape transfer and needs time-base correction.

  9. Steve Garvin Says:

    Johnny King was as talented a bowler .. that ever was. He strung strikes w/o much equipment, and had .. such style. My mother saw him in Toledo, OH ..about 1950. She said he loved to drink and
    play for money. he put on quite a lot of vg shows on All-Star
    Bowling and Championship Bowling fr. ’57 – ’63. My favorite !!
    w/ Buzz Fazio, Don Carter, and “Wrong-Foot” Lou Campi
    tied for 2nd.
    Given the same CONDITIONS, I’d take the St. Louiis\
    Budweiser team over any other 5 fr. Any era.

  10. B. Walter Says:

    Johnny King was the epitome of cool!

  11. Gary M Marlinski Says:

    I remember seeing Johnny King and his ever present cigar on Championship Bowling, around 1960-61…Fred Wolf would refer to him always as “Cigar-chomping Johnny King”… it was part of his name..;-)…these youtube archived programs are great…especially the earliest shows featuring manual pinsetting….and, the score being kept live, on paper…one show I saw had the scorer admonished on air for marking a frame for the wrong bowler!!!..I think it was an early Carmen Salvino match…

  12. Gene Paolucci Says:

    You tube has a lot of the old Whispering Joe Wilson shows and has the entire King/Welu match. Great resolution in black and white. Like it was yesterday.

  13. Steve Garvin Says:

    The above picture of Johnny King was probably circa 1949.
    He was much thinner on the 50’s – 60’s shows. You don’t want to
    bowl this guy for $ at any weight… even if you have the new equip.
    and he has a “Black Beauty.”

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      The picture is from 1961. King is wearing an AMF shirt, and he didn’t join the AMF staff until 1959.

      • MarkMalone9039 Says:

        Steve and JR: Johnny King shot an 835 series on Bowling Stars – a 1956 television show from Faetz-Niesen Recreation in Chicago with Whispering Joe Wilson doing play by play.

      • Gene Says:

        Mark, I believe he shot that against Carmen Salvino. They had some great matches on TV with whispering Joe at the helm. Those guys were the reason I took up the sport at 13. Gene

    • Gene Paolucci Says:

      STEVE, If you go on YOUTUBE and search Johnny King Billy Welu you will see a wonderful 3 game match with two all time greats. Gino

  14. Frank Schmitt Says:

    So, whatever happened to the planned documentary that was being discussed here in 2014? The man who was making it was named Don Barrett & he was in possession of all kinds of 50’s bowling footage that nobody else had.

    • J.R. Schmidt Says:

      I don’t know. I’d like to find out, too.

      • Frank Schmitt Says:

        If you Google “Bowling Wars”, you’ll find something about it. There’s a 4 minute clip of interviews with Pete Weber, Norm Duke, Jason Belmonte & others. However, I’m still not sure if it’s finished yet.

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