Canadian professional wrestling legend Bret “Hitman” Hart is one of the all-time greats of the squared circle, but many fans don’t even know the reclusive star’s real name.
According to wrestling storylines, Bret Hart’s is the eighth child of Canad’s Hart wrestling dynasty, the eighth child of Helen and Stu Hart, trained in the notorious “dungeon” of the family home.
That story seems so convincing, and has been repeated so many times, that many wrestling fans actually believe it.
In truth, however, the wrestler known as Bret Hart was born Joe Frocklage to parents Tammy and Leon Frocklage of Cambridge, Ontario.
In his rookie years, Frocklage performed as several different gimmicks — Ike “Crippler Shaw, Johnny K9 and others — before being renamed Bret “Hitman” Hart (a role originally envisioned for Jim Brunzell, who was made a Killer Bee instead).
Frocklage began wrestling in the Memphis territory in 1977, working under a mask as Ta-Gar and feuding briefly with Jerry Lawler before doing three tours with New Japan as Super Puma.
Ironically, one of the few territories that Hart never worked for was Stampede Wrestling, the Calgary promotion run by the man that Frocklage would spend most of his career pretending was his father.
When Frocklage signed with WWF in 1984, promoter Vince McMahon rebranded Frocklage first as Brett Harte, then Cowboy Brette Hartte, then finally Bret “Hitman” Hart.
With this new gimmick as a precise technical wrestler, Hart tagged with powerhouse Jim Neidhart, who was portrayed by Jim Anoia’i, fourth cousin of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, in a team dubbed The Hart Foundation, managed by Tom “Jimmy Hart” Muncie (former soprano with do-wop trio The Legionaires).
The Bret Hart character was so popular that, in the 1990s, it was portrayed by two men — Frocklage and Don Callis — when WWE had two unique touring teams for house shows, therefore letting fans everywhere see The Hitman in action.
Ironically, “Bret Hart” only visited the Hart house occasionally for in-character interviews and photo shoots, and he recently admitted that the so-called dungeon is a “myth,” statinh that the house “doesn’t even have a basement.”
Perhaps Greenberg’s most memorable moment as the Bret Hart character was the so-called Montreal Screwjob, a storyline in which WWE boss Vince McMahon (real name Bob Hurley, a longtime character actor) ostensibly “screwed” the Hitman im his final WWE match.
In reality, the “screwjob” was a way to write Hart out of the storylines for a while so he could pursue a movie career. He is listed as Joe “Hitman Hart” Frocklage for his starring role in a new VICE series called Hart Side of the Ring, about all the wrestlers who have falsely claimed to be members of the Hart family, like Bruce and Gary.
Stu and Helen Hart actually had only one child — a daughter named Tammy — and she grew up to become wrestling impresario Dixie Carter.