Smith Hart on The Hart Family's ties to Long Island, the city of Long Beach, and more
Professional wrestling is a business built on families. Vince McMahon, principal owner of the WWE, is a third-generation promoter with his two children both involved in the family business. Three generations of the Von Erich family have performed all around the world. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a third-generation talent, with his father (Rocky Johnson) and grandfather (Peter Maivia) being stars in their day, beyond there being plenty of cousins in the Anoa'i lineage that currently wrestle. But the most popular wrestling family of all is arguably The Hart Family.
The roots of The Hart Family in wrestling begin with wrestler and promoter Stu Hart. Stu Hart's Calgary-based Stampede Wrestling not only featured his eight sons – including Bret Hart and Owen Hart – but also legends like Superstar Billy Graham, Chris Jericho, The Honky Tonk Man, and The Junkyard Dog. Stu also played a role in training a lot of future stars, including Mark Henry, Edge, Davey Boy Smith, and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. There are currently two wrestlers related to the Harts – Natalya and Tyson Kidd – on the WWE roster, while their uncle Bret makes occasional appearances.
While everyone associates The Hart Family with being a Canadian dynasty, Stu's wife Helen was a resident of Long Beach. Stu and Helen actually met in Long Beach, and their first-born Smith was born on the Barrier Island. Smith spoke to No Place Like Long Island about his memories of Long Island and what's ahead for him. Smith can be followed on Twitter, while his newly-launched podcast can be checked out via the Totally Driven network.
Your family is generally associated with Calgary, but you were born in Long Beach. Did your parents meet in Long Beach?
SH: Yes, my parents met in Long Beach. After my dad got out of the service, he came to work for Toots Mondt -- Vince McMahon Sr.'s boss -- in New York City. One weekend, he along with Lord James Blears and Paul Boesch came out to Long Island and there he met my mother.
Were any of your other siblings born in Long Beach?
SH: No, Keith and Bruce were born in Montana, with the remaining nine siblings being born in Calgary.
Do you remember anything about Long Beach from your childhood?
SH: I remember my grandfather teaching me to shoot a gun in Long Beach. I remember my aunts taking me to the beach almost daily. I remember I was doted upon by my grandparents as the son they never had, which was far different from the discipline I would later receive from my father.
Did you ever come back to Long Beach as an adult? Did anyone in your family?
SH: I stop by Long Beach any time I am in New York. I was last there last year at a tribute concert for The Ramones. I know Bret and Owen stopped in many times during their time in WWF, not quite as sure about the rest of my siblings, although I am sure many have stopped in on their own time.
Is there anywhere else on Long Island that you can recall going to? Did you ever go to the Nassau Coliseum?
SH: I went to the Nassau Coliseum many times as a youth to watch my father wrestle. I went to Coney Island multiple times as a kid also.
Did your family ever promote a live event on Long Island? In Long Beach?
SH: No, we did not.
Being born in a beach town and then growing up in a cold part of Canada, were you ever tempted to move back to a beach town?
SH: I lived in Puerto Rico for several years as an adult and if I could have learned the language, I would likely have moved there for the rest of my life. We also owned a beach house in Calgary for many years growing up, which is where I primarily spent my summers.
For the people who only know you as a Hart family member. What are you working on these days? Any projects to promote?
SH: I have my own podcast called The Hart Grapevine that airs every Tuesday night on the Totally Driven Entertainment Network. And shortly I will be setting up an online store for Hart Family Memorabilia at Prowrestlingtees.com. I also hope to release my autobiography in the near future.
Is there anything that you wish more people knew about you?
SH: Most of what people want to know about me is going to be in my book, but I also want people to know there is still more third-generation Hart wrestlers out there -- namely my sons Matthew and Michael who are still new – and I want people to keep an eye on them.
Finally, Smith, any last words for the kids?
SH: Stay in school.