Rollen Stewart

Rollen Stewart

Few ever knew his real name. But millions who tuned into major sporting events in the late 70s and much of the 80s became accustomed to his smiling face – not to mention his hard-to-miss rainbow wig and religious message. His name was Rollen Stewart, but most remember him simply as Rainbow Man.

Born in 1944, Rollen Stewart first came to public attention in the late 70s, when he began to appear at numerous sporting events around the country wearing his brightly-colored wig. Initially, the goal was merely to attract attention, but along the way, Stewart believed that he received a message from God, directing him to use this publicity to get the good word out.

From that point on, he was always displaying a message, such as “John 3:16” or “Repent” or “Jesus Loves You.” Armed with a portable television, he used the device to ascertain the best positioning for the cameras, driving broadcasters crazy, who did their best to keep him out of their coverage. They were rarely successful. He showed up at golf tournaments, NBA Finals, baseball and football games, and even Charles and Diane’s wedding.

Unfortunately, like the aforementioned wedding, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. In 1992, Stewart’s religious fervor reached felonious proportions, when he took a hotel maid hostage at a hotel near a Los Angeles airport. He offered to release her if he could have a few moments of airtime on every media network.

He didn’t get his wish – and when he started talking about shooting at low flying planes, the patience of law enforcement ran out. His room was stormed, he was taken into custody, and for his efforts, he received three consecutive life sentences. And although the story drew significant attention at the time, few people seem to remember what ever happened to Rainbow Guy.

A couple of years before Stewart was apprehended, he did manage to receive a little loving attention from the cast of Saturday Night Live, as well as the honor of being portrayed by none other than Christopher Walken (as Rainbow Head). Funny as that sketch was, however, the rest of his story is more tragic than humorous.

Do you remember seeing Rainbow Man on television back in the day? Share your memories of this colorful character turned danger-to-society in our comments section, as we reflect upon the infamous reign of Rollen Stewart.

9 Responses to “Rollen Stewart”

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  1. Jennifer harris says:

    I don’t remember him.

  2. jennifer harris says:

    I don’t remember seeing Rainbow Man.

  3. Kapatsos says:

    So thats what happend to him……..I wonder if he wears the wig in prison…

  4. Rod Whitenack says:

    If they let Michael Myers wear his mask in jail (see the end of “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers”), I suppose Rainbow Man can wear his wig in the big house.

  5. dubble07 says:

    Don’t know why I thought of this guy, but googled it and here we are. Interesting that this was posted and commented on this year, 2011.

  6. Bill Gordon says:

    I grew up with him. He was born in Spokane, Wa. and grew up in Bremerton, Wa. until he started high school then moved to Eastern Wa. His parents were alchoholics (father died of liver disease in early fifties, mother died in a house fire due to smoking in bed and his younger sister was murdered in Seattle in the late 60’s). He was raised in a totally disfunctional family. If you notice, he has never mentioned anything about his growing up years. I believe he has blocked out that part of his life. His dad would beat the crap out of him when he got drunk, and his folks fought like crazy whenever they got drunk and that was quite often until his dad died. The warping of Rollie Stewart’s mind started with the screwed up family life and tragic circumstances involved with his family. He was also a very high strung individual, even when we kids. Hope this sheds a little light on what may have contributed to his being such a whacko person.

    • Milton Dudley says:

      Did Stewart ever hang around Roslyn or Cle Elum. I have a distant memory of him in that area. Also, I remember, I think, that his afro was not a rainbow in the beginning. Can you shed any light on this? Thanks.

      • Barry Carlson says:

        Yes,isaw RR at a reception in Ronald. He Crashed it two or three girls and yes he was wearing his rainbow wig. Everyone was drunk. That’s when I discovered he owned a ranch in CE

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