Lifestyle: Tom Bernstein was a big part of LA radio behind the scenes and has related many stories from his years in the field.
THE GREAT FARRELL’S ICE CREAM WRESTLING MATCH.
Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors were an extremely popular, fun place to eat and celebrate family occasions, especially birthdays, during the 60’s and 70’s. A free sundae was given to the birthday celebrant. The parlors had an early 1900s theme and the enthusiastic staff wore period dress and straw boater hats. They served a number of giant sundaes, the biggest was the “Zoo”, which featured 7 pounds of ice cream covered by various fruits and toppings with little plastic animals stuck on top. Hence the name “Zoo”. It was served to customers with great fan fair, on a stretcher, accompanied by an ambulance siren. Farrell’s was one of my accounts at KCOP-TV and a sponsor of the Hobo Kelly kids TV show. They were looking for some kind of on camera promotion. KCOP also carried Olympic Auditorium boxing and wrestling and for some reason, they decided to do a sundae eating contest on the live wrestling matches held at the La Brea Ave. studio on Sundays. The premise was to have two of the wrestlers see who could eat the famous “Zoo” sundae the fastest and then give Farrell’s ice cream to the attending spectators afterwards. A table was set up next to the wrestling ring with opposing chairs for the two wrestlers. Big tubs of ice cream were nearby to be served to the audience. Sundaes were made up and given to the two wrestlers and the start for the contest was given. At first things went smoothly, when suddenly, one of the wrestlers took a handful of ice cream and smashed it in the face of his opponent. He in turn dumped his sundae on the head of the aggressor. Things quickly got out of hand when the two wrestlers hand scooped ice cream out of the nearby tubs and wildly threw it at each other, and all over the place. This was all live, on camera. I don’t remember the feed back after it all ended. I didn’t get fired and Farrell’s stayed on The Hobo Kelly show. But I still wonder too this day why they picked a wrestling promotion instead of a nice, respectable kids show. I did get to met and talk to international star, arch villain, wrester, John Tolos. (not one of the ice cream fight participants,) who turned out to be a really nice guy, and a Canadian.
The original owners of Farrell’s, based in Portland Ore., sold the chain, then120 stores, to the Marriott Corp in 1972, and as happens when big corporations take over, sales went down. Farrell’s was eventually re-sold to private investors, and further mismanagement forced most of the stores to be sold off or close. The last Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, in Brea, California, closed in June 2019.l