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. Here is an intriguing documentary on Rollen Stewart:
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):
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.