It is not uncommon in the business of professional wrestling to be hot one minute and gone the the next. It has happened and has continued to happen for years. While that certain wrestler will just simply travel from one territory to the next to keep visible, the subject of this particular piece almost vanished without a trace for over 30 years: Sunshine.
If name Valerie French does not ring a bell for you then perhaps her pro wrestling alter ego nickname ‘Sunshine’ will. Sunshine was a wrestling valet who is best remembered by the side of ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin back in the early 1980’s. She was with Garvin briefly in the Florida territory but her biggest notoriety came when she and Garvin came to Texas and World Class Championship Wrestling.
Sunshine was not just a typical subservient valet. She had no problems getting herself involved in matches and interfering on behalf of Garvin. One of the biggest angles she and Garvin were involved in while working for WCCW occurred back in 1983 when Garvin lost a match to David Von Erich and they were both forced to work and do chores on the Von Erich ranch. It was a classic angle that had the very high class duo doing menial chores while Von Erich watched with laughter.
Many fans thought that Jimmy Garvin and Sunshine were an item off screen. In reality though, Sunshine and Garvin were really cousins! It made the acting of both Garvin and Sunshine all the more impressive. They were buddies that looked out for each other while on the road.
This was the 1980’s however and with that came the fast, decadent lifestyles of many pro wrestlers. Add to that, the exploding wrestling landscape with the introduction of cable TV. Drugs, booze and partying were very common in those days and Sunshine and Garvin were no strangers to that way of living.
According to Jimmy, Sunshine got extremely wrapped up in the wild partying and became a heavy drinker. Garvin once said in an interview that Sunshine at one point could out drink him and ‘Freebird’ Buddy Jack Roberts. It started to affect the career of Jimmy Garvin with Sunshine often times showing up late to shows. That is when Garvin knew he needed to make a change for the benefit of himself and his cousin.
Jimmy turned to his wife Patti and begged her to come on the road with him and Sunshine. At first, Patti refused but after a few weeks of non-stop pleading, she agreed. This would set up an angle where Patti, now known as ‘Precious’, would become Sunshine’s assistant. Before long, Precious interfered in a Garvin match costing him a victory. It led Precious to lie and accuse Sunshine of the botch. That in turn caused a cat fight between Precious and Sunshine with Garvin taking Precious’ side and abandoning Sunshine. Sunshine would turn face and feud with both Garvin and Precious for a spell.
When Jimmy and Precious left the World Class territory to join the AWA, it left Sunshine to fend for herself. She eventually joined the upstart Universal Wrestling Federation run by ‘Cowboy’ Bill Watts and managed a few people including John Tatum and Jack Victory as well as the Missing Link. But by 1986, Sunshine was gone.
She didn’t go to the WWF or the NWA, instead she just stopped being involved in wrestling without warning. She quit, retired, called it a career and went into virtual hiding from the wrestling public. As the years went by, many fans turned to the internet to find out what exactly happened to her. Did she die? Was she in some sort of trouble with the law? No, in fact, according to her former protege and cousin Jimmy Garvin, the artist formerly known as Sunshine is doing “well…really well.”
She married a man named David Vaughan and had a daughter. They now live a rather quiet life in the Tampa, Florida area. She no longer is involved in pro wrestling in any way despite several attempts to locate her and have her attend conventions. She is not on Facebook or Twitter and has seemingly left her pro wrestling life in the past. She is simply much more content being a wife and a mother.
Perhaps one day she’ll reappear to greet her fans that have wondered about her for all these years. Until then, if it ever happens, we are left with the memories of her short, but memorable, career as Sunshine.