Wrestler Karl Von Hess Original Vintage Photograph
Frank Faketty (a.k.a. Karl Von Hess) was born in Michigan in 1919 to Hungarian immigrants, and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. Von Hess was a lifeguard and swimming teacher before joining the United States Navy during World War II, serving aboard the cruiser USS Montpelier in the Underwater Demolition TEAM 5. During Karl’s early career he was an amateur/pro boxer in which he was the U.S. Middleweight Champion under his birth name Frank Faketty. At the beginning of WWII he joined the Navy and, because he was a great swimmer, was placed in the UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) now known as the Navy Seals. During this time he was decorated for his heroic acts and was commemorated in the National Navy UDT-Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, FL. After the war he went back into boxing as a middleweight but soon became a pro wrestler. His career as a pro wrestler went from the 1940’s to the mid-70’s. He wrestled for the WWWF (now the WWE) and was a World Champion during his time.
After being discharged from the Navy, Frank Faketty worked on the carnival circuit for several years, then worked in various regional wrestling promotions. In 1955, he was inspired by another wrestler, Kurt Von Poppenheim who had a local “heel” gimmick, and there Von Hess further developed the gimmick of the villain into the wrestling persona of a Nazi sympathizer there being the first to take the gimmick nationwide. In doing this, Von Hess became one of the most hated wrestlers; and fans flocked to the arenas to boo him. He adopted the name of Karl Von Hess, later changing his name legally. Von Hess was so convincing as a “heel” that some fans tried to stab him, burn him, and even shoot at him. Von Hess quickly rose to fame in Vince McMahon Sr’s Capital / WWWF promotion drawing huge crowds wherever he went. In truth, he was far from a Nazi sympathizer, but used the gimmick to inspire the position of the villainous “heel”. He did it better than anyone!