The Hart wrestling family is a Canadian family with a significant history within professional wrestling. The patriarch of the family was wrestling legend, WWE Hall of Famer and Order of Canada recipient Stu Hart (1915–2003). An amateur and professional wrestling performer, promoter and trainer, Stu not only owned and operated his own wrestling promotion, Stampede Wrestling, but also trained some of the most well known and successful stars in the contemporary wrestling industry including Edge, Chris Jericho, and Chris Benoit. Two of his sons, Bret and Owen, also achieved fame and success in the World Wrestling Federation, with many of the WWF’s biggest storylines in the mid-1990s being built around Bret and Owen and their brothers-in-law.
As of 2012 the only Hart actively working in WWE is Stu’s granddaughter Natalie “Natalya” Neidhart, but Bret makes occasional guest appearances while WWE employs Dungeon graduates Tyson Kidd, and former world champions Chris Jericho, Christian and Mark Henry.
Children of Stu and Helen Hart
- Smith (born 1949), retired professional wrestler.
- Bruce (born 1951), retired professional wrestler.
- Keith (born 1952), retired professional wrestler
- Wayne (born 1953), professional wrestling referee
- Dean (1954–1990), professional wrestler
- Ellie (born 1955), married the wrestler Jim Neidhart
- Georgia (born 1956), married the wrestler B.J. Annis.
- Bret (born 1957), retired professional wrestler.
- Alison (born 1959), married to wrestler Ben Bassarab
- Ross (born 1961), professional wrestling promoter
- Diana (born 1963), former wife of Davey Boy Smith (The British Bulldog)
- Owen (1965–1999), professional wrestler.
The Hart family is one of the most well-known professional wrestling families in history. The patriarch of the family, Stu Hart was a professional wrestler and a trainer as well as the owner of Stampede Wrestling. Many of his children became professional wrestlers. He became involved with wrestling after retiring from his career with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Stu began promoting wrestling in 1948 and operated Stampede Wrestling until selling it to Vince McMahon in 1984. In 1985, however, he decided to revive the promotion, which remained in operation until December 1989. It was brought back again in 1999 by Bruce and Ross Hart and remains active today. Stu Hart has been noted from training some of North America’s most famous wrestlers, including André the Giant, the “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, Dynamite Kid, Junkyard Dog, and dozens more in addition to his own sons.
Roddy Piper is a cousin of the Hart family
Bret Hart has won the most wrestling championships of anyone in the family. He won his first title belt in the World Wrestling Federation while teaming with brother-in-law Jim Neidhart (Ellie Hart’s husband) to form The Hart Foundation tag team. They had a feud with the British Bulldogs (Diana Hart’s husband Davey Boy Smith and Bret Hart’s sister-in-law’s husband Dynamite Kid, who were first cousins in real life). On January 26, 1987, Hart and Neidhart defeated the Bulldogs to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. After the Hart Foundation split up, Owen Hart began teaming with Neidhart as The New Foundation. Bret went on to have a successful career as a singles wrestler, holding theWWF Championship five times.
The family connection played a role in two major WWF storylines. Four of the Hart brothers (Bret, Owen, Keith, and Bruce) formed a team at Survivor Series 1993. Animosity began to build between Bret and Owen, and Owen turned on Bret at Royal Rumble 1994. This led to a feud between the two brothers; Neidhart later became involved on Owen’s side, while Smith sided with Bret. The feud culminated with Owen costing Bret the WWF Championship. While Bret was defending the title against Bob Backlund at Survivor Series 1994, Owen tricked his mother Helen into throwing a towel into the ring to signify that Bret conceded defeat.
Several years later, the Hart Foundation was formed again, this time as a stable of anti-American wrestlers. Bret and Owen reconciled, and they were joined by Neidhart, Smith, and Brian Pillman (Pillman was not related but had trained with the Hart family and was a friend of the family). At the In Your House: Canadian Stampede pay-per-view in Calgary on July 6, 1997, the Hart Foundation won a five-on-five match against Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, and The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal). Bret Hart left the WWF in 1997 after what has come to be known as the Montreal Screwjob, while Owen died as the result of a failed stunt during his ring entrance at the Over the Edge 1999 pay-per-view. Bret would eventually return to the renamed WWE in 2010 after settling his differences with the promotion.
Three of Stu and Helen Hart’s grandchildren have begun careers in professional wrestling. Nattie Neidhart, daughter of Ellie and Jim, trained in Calgary and now wrestles for World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the WWF) under the ring name Natalya. She was the first female from the Hart family to win Championship gold, when she won the Diva’s Championship at Survivor Series 2010. Harry Smith, son of Diana and Davey Boy Smith, uses the name David Hart Smith and also wrestled for WWE. Teddy Hart, son of Georgia Hart and BJ Annis, has also competed in WWE but was released by the company.