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Skull Murphy & Brute Bernard

Skull Murphy

Real Name - John Joseph Murphy

Lifespan - 12/7/30 - 3/23/70

6'1" 265 lbs. - Hamilton, ONT

Athletic Background - n/a

Teacher(s) - Jimmy Simms

Professional Background - Canada, Charlotte, Georgia, Detroit

Aliases - none

Brute Bernard

Real Name - Jim Prudhomme

Lifespan - 6/6/21 - 7/14/84

6'2" 250 lbs. - Montreal, Que

Athletic Background - n/a

Teacher(s) - Jack Britton

Professional Background - Canada(`56-`6?), Minneapolis(`56), Detroit(`56-`61); Texas(`67), Australia(`68), Mid-Atlantic(`70-`80), Texas(`72-`73), Australia(`72-`73), Georgia(`75), Toronto(`76), New Japan(`77-`78), Detroit, Amarillo(`77), Toronto(`79-`80), Indies(`80-`84)

Aliases - Jim Bernard, The Brute

Professional Background (as a team) - 

Detroit(`61), Capitol(`61),

WWWF(`63-`64), Mid-Atlantic(`64-`65), Florida(`64), Australia(`66;`68-`69), Mid-Atlantic(`69-`70)

Peak Years - `63-`66

Place in History

In the 1960s, a pair of bulky, bald-headed ruffians from Canada wreaked havoc throughout some of the premier territories of the era.  Skull Murphy and Brute Bernard were the ideal pair of villains to battle not only popular babyface combinations, but also other heels in matches billed as the “Battle of the Bullies.”  Both men broke into the business close to home; Murphy came from the pro-wrestling factory of Hamilton, Ontario and had been a successful heel in the Southeast prior to hooking up with Bernard in Detroit.  Bernard started under the well-connected Jack Britton before teaming with the more experienced, but younger Skull.  The two complimented each other well.  Murphy, afflicted by disease, was completely hairless, and had one of the greatest faces of any pro-wrestling heel.  Bernard, covered with hair save his head and face, was known for his sneering and growling (largely due to his thick French accent that made his English almost indistinguishable).  They complimented one another in the ring very well.  Murphy was an excellent bumper who could feed babyfaces, while Bernard could chop meat, work holds and play a convincing wild man all along the way.  Both men were dedicated professionals who excelled as a team, but were believable as opponents for top babyfaces.  After establishing their act in the Midwest for Jim Barnett and Johnny Doyle’s booking office, they headed to East and were key players in the formative days of the WWWF and later Eddie Graham’s Florida office.  When Barnett and Doyle brought American style pro-wrestling to Australia, they quickly brought in the Skull and the Brute to establish their tag team ranks.  They were top heels when that promotion was the hottest in the world and solidified their place in the pantheon of great tag teams.  After having left their mark, they returned to States to work in the Mid-Atlantic territory.  Their success continued until the mysterious death of Skull Murphy in 1970.  Following Murphy’s death, Bernard worked for more than ten years around the territories where he was a known entity.  He formed some tag teams with heels like Rocky Hamilton and Jay York, but he was well past his prime.  Bernard had a stormy relationship with noted lady wrestler Betty Jo Hawkins and stories of his both strange behavior and uncharacteristic kindness further cloud his name.  His death, like Murphy’s, has been open to some debate as whether he committed suicide or was accidentally killed while either playing Russian Roulette or cleaning his gun.  Despite the tragic end of both men, their role as one of the best tag teams of the 1960s is without question.  The ten year run of Skull Murphy and Brute Bernard (minus a short time apart while the Brute worked in Texas) is as impressive as any of their contemporaries.  They headlined a number of important territories, most notably Australia during their peak.  Their work was well-regarded by their peers and promoters.  Perhaps most significantly, the Skull and the Brute were two of the most unforgettable bad guys to anyone who saw them.