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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been a celebrity most of his adult life. Starting as a professional wrestler, he moved on to working in film and television, eventually becoming one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood.
His humble beginnings involved traveling the country, never putting down real roots, as his father performed in wrestling competitions. Early on in his career, in an episode of That ’70s Show, Johnson had a chance to play his real-life father, WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson.
Who was Dwayne Johnson’s father?
The Rock was born Dwayne Douglas Johnson in 1972 in Hayward, California. His mother, of Samoan descent, was the daughter of a professional wrestler, Peter “High Chief” Maivia.
The Rock’s father, who was African American, was a fan-favorite wrestler who made a name for himself in the ’70s. He introduced his son to the ring, inspiring The Rock to develop into one of the world’s most recognizable wrestlers.
According to the Encyclopedia of World Biography, “In the late 1990s the charismatic Johnson, with his exotic good looks and signature eyebrow arch, helped make World Wrestling Smackdowns a part of must-see TV.”
Once a football player at the University of Miami, The Rock had aspirations to play in the NFL but never made it because of a back injury. He made up for it years later, starring in the HBO series, Ballers, portraying a retired football legend.
Best known for his roles in Jumanji, Hobbs & Shaw, and San Andreas, the 49-year-old actor has worked hard to become a major player in Hollywood.
The father of three will next appear as Skipper Frank in the highly-anticipated Disney movie Jungle Cruise. He will also be voicing the lead character in the animated film DC League of Super Pets.
The Rock’s first scripted acting role was ‘That ’70s Show’
Before The Rock became a household name, he impressed hordes of fans as part of the WWF wrestling circuit, Nation of Domination. His six-foot-four-inch, 270-pound body, along with his good looks and bad-boy persona, helped him stand out among competitors.
According to Entertainment Weekly, at the height of Johnson’s popularity, “The WWF collected $120.4 million from sales of merchandise” in one year.
In 1999, the wrestler transitioned to the small screen, appearing in an episode on the first season of That ’70s Show. Mental Floss reported the cameo marked “Johnson’s first scripted acting role” in television or film.
In the infamous scene, Red Forman (Kurtwood Smith) takes Eric (Topher Grace) and his friends to a wrestling match. After the bout, Red sneaks into the locker room with his son to get an autograph. The star he is eager to meet is The Rock, who is portraying his legendary pro-wrestler father.
According to IMDB, in the episode “That Wrestling Show,” when Red asks for an autograph, Johnson responds, “That’s really nice. Bringing your kid to a wrestling match. You know. I’ve got a son. And one day, he’s gonna become the most electrifying man in sports entertainment.”
The Rock has come a long way since his early days on That ’70s Show. His wrestling contract officially ended in 2004, at which time he focused his talents on being a full-time actor.
Variety reported that for the second year in a row, Johnson is the highest-paid actor in Hollywood. With a current net worth of $400 million, the talented actor earned $87.5 million last year.
The Rock’s legendary father
The Rock’s father enjoyed a professional wrestling career that spanned several decades. CBR reported that in 1983 Johnson and teammate Tony Atlas, known as The Soul Patrol, became the first African-American World Tag Team Champions.
One of the all-time greats, Johnson retired from wrestling in 1991. Several years later, he began training his son.
Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008 and the International Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2019. After his father’s unexpected death in January 2020, The Rock recalled learning the headlock from his dad when he was only six years old.
The NBC series Young Rock depicts the Rock’s life story and is streaming on Peacock.
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