POWAY, Calif. — Imagine not sleeping for twelve straight days or doing the Twist for one hundred and two hours without stopping. In this Zevely Zone, I met San Diego's famous world record holder from the 1970's and previewed his upcoming documentary titled 'Full Tilt Boogie Daddy-O'.
In 1974, at a San Diego waterbed showroom, Roger Guy English set a world record for sleeplessness. "I feel kind of dinghy, and a little distant but other than that I feel okay," said Roger in 1974 to CBS 8 while setting the Guinness world record.
Roger grew up in La Jolla. He now lives in Poway. I asked him how long he stayed awake. "12 days, five hours and fifteen minutes," said Roger who played Monopoly with his friends and smoked cigarettes to stay alert.
His story in 1974 was covered by CBS 8's Cathy Clark. "With just a few hours remaining to go before he breaks the world's sleepless record, Roger Guy English is doing just about anything to keep the old eyeballs open. Who knows at this point he may qualify for two headings in the Guinness Book or World Records, sleeplessness and the world's first certified zombie," said Cathy in her television report. After setting the record Roger slept for 26 hours before waking up.
I asked Roger why he set so many world records and if he likes attention. "I love it, I like making people good. I like making people laugh and smile," said Roger while we sat at his kitchen table.
Another world record Roger set happened in a La Jolla pool when he treaded water. "18 and a half hours. That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, I thought I was going to die," said Roger.
He certainly could have died during another one of his crazy stunts. CBS 8 pulled vintage footage of Roger explaining the mission. "We are going to leave San Diego and go to Minneapolis where I will jump in the Mississippi River and swim to New Orleans and that will be an attempt to break the world's longest swim record," said Roger. He swam about a thousand miles and gave up. "It didn't work, it was one of my major flops, you hope any kind of publicity stunt will catch on, this did not catch on," said Roger.
Another world record did receive worldwide media attention when he kissed 3,000 girls in eight hours. "One every 9.6 seconds and I think that was my fourth world record. We did that on the streets of La Jolla," said Roger. "It was the best day of my life." Roger said the women lined up consensually on a street for him to kiss. "It was a massive hit, the news about that went around the world," said Roger.
At one point, Roger held the world record for holding world records. "I know, I'll walk to Canada, I am going to walk from La Jolla to Canada," said Roger about another record. That's just what he did; he walked 1,400 miles before heading home for another record. Roger told jokes for 5 hours and 15 minutes. "Yes, I did. I can happily say I didn't get one single laugh," said Roger.
But he bounced back, when he played the video game Pong for a week straight in a KFMB promotion. "I played thousands and thousands and thousands over a seven-day period and set the world record," said Roger who was so good at the game he could play with his feet.
Producer Jim Baxter and film maker Tyler J. French are making a documentary about Roger titled Full Tilt Boogie Daddy-O. That was Roger's mantra in life when he took himself to the limit. Full Tilt Boogie Daddy-O is also the name of a beer Thorn Brewing named after him. "Jim Baxter said even Academy Award winners don't get on a can of beer," said Roger.
But how many Oscar winners have danced for almost five days straight? "Come on baby let's do the twist," sang Roger as he showed me the dance, he set another world record with for 102 hours, 28 minutes and 37 seconds. "We broke the world record this morning at 4 am, then I lasted 28 minutes after that and collapsed and when I say we I am talking about the five people who stayed up with me the whole five days," said Roger during another vintage CBS 8 interview we found in our archives.
We asked Roger if there are any more world records on the horizon? "No, not that I know of," he laughed. A kind and generous man known for setting records wanted to simply leave us with these words for the record. "Be kind, just be kind. It is a lot easier to be kind than it is to be mean, and I like to be kind," said Roger.
Perhaps too kind to say most people including the reporter sitting in front of him crave the spotlight too. "Sounds familiar doesn't it Jeff?" quipped photojournalist Scott Hall. "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha," Roger laughed for thirty seconds before saying, "I was going to say the same thing to you, but I didn't want to be rude."
To name just a few of his notable highlights on his life journey, Roger has:
- Walked to Canada
- Did "The Twist" for 4 1/2 Days
- Stayed awake for 12 Days at a waterbed store on University Avenue in 1974.
- Played "Pong" consecutively for 7 Days in a KFMB promo
- Told jokes for 5 hours and 15 minutes
I would like to send special thanks to CBS 8 Throwback producer Barb Nielson and film archivist Pea Hicks for their assistance in gathering CBS's archive footage of Roger.
After achieving seven world records in less than three years in the 1970s, he retired to a simple life in Poway. The documentary Full Tilt Boogie Daddy-O will be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival in September. Instead of revealing his age, Roger tells people he's older than dirt. Full Tilt Boogie-O will be released in January. For more information on the film click here.
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