Sunday, August 19, 2018

Best of the Gateway: James J. Dillon & The Limousine

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's been a long time since I've written about my departed friend Rob Riddick here. I don't want him to be forgotten in the wrestling world. Rob was a wrestling photographer in the 1980s and many of his photographs were published in the magazines edited by George Napolitano.  

I have many photos Rob sent me in the years we knew each other. Some have been published here, many more I need to include.

The following is one of the first articles I wrote about Rob on the Gateway back in 2015. 

Honoring photographer and friend Robert Riddick, Jr.

One of Rob Riddick's favorite photographs that he shot was of James J. Dillon outside of his hotel in Baltimore the weekend of the second Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup tag team tournament. It was April of 1987, and J.J. was waiting for Ric Flair and the rest of the Four Horsemen to join him as they prepared to depart in their limousine.  Rob was shooting for George Napolitano and his series of pro-wrestling news stand magazines at this time.

Rob once told me the context of the photo, but I don't recall when during the weekend this was or where he said the Horsemen were headed. He told me he had taken this photo for himself. 

Twenty six years later, in the summer of 2013, my friend Conrad Thompson was looking for a unique photo he could have enlarged and signed by J.J. at a private gathering in Huntsville, AL. I suggested Rob's limousine photo and Conrad thought it was perfect. He had the photo of J.J. and the limousine blown up into a nice 16 x 20" foam-board poster. Since Rob allowed us to use his photograph, I asked J.J. to sign one for him, too, and explained to him that it was Rob who had taken the photo all those years ago and that it was one of his favorites.

J.J. took great care in signing the print to Rob. The inscription read:

"To Robert: 
Thanks for the great photo. 
J.J. Dillon
The Leader of the Four Horsemen forever!"

I was so excited to be able to get this for Rob.  J.J. was one of his favorite wrestlers and managers. The photo of J.J. and the limousine had been used on the cover of one of J.J.'s recent shoot-interview DVDs, which Rob was very proud of all these years later. I called him and told him I had it for him and that I would mail it to him, but needed to get the right packaging for it because it was on foam-board and could not be rolled up. He told me not to worry with it, as we were planning on trying to see each other soon, and I could give it to him then. I sent him a photo via e-mail of the signed print so he could see what J.J. had written. But even with that, I had every good intention to go ahead and mail it to him.

But it was not to be.

I believe it was Thomas Edison who once said something like "Good intentions, with poor execution, often lead to poor results.” Rob passed away a short time later, before our planned get-together. I had not yet mailed the signed photograph to him. I still feel bad about that to this day.

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This article was originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway June 26, 2015.