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Professional wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, one of the most well-known World Wrestling Entertainment figures with an expansive career, died Thursday. He was 61.
“Rod passed peacefully in his sleep last night,” a statement from his representative, Jay Schachter, read. No further details on the cause of death were immediately disclosed.
“I am shocked and beyond devastated. He was an amazing man and a true friend. He was one of the most generous, sincere and authentic people I have ever known. This is a true loss to us all,” Schachter read.
A native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. Taking advantage of his Scottish heritage, he was billed as a native of Glasgow, and he entered the ring in a kilt and accompanied by bagpipe music.
In the main event at the inaugural WrestleMania, held in March 1985 at Madison Square Garden in New York, he and Paul Orndorff were defeated by Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. He then boxed Mr. T in WrestleMania 2.
He also hosted for years a popular segment on the wrestling telecasts called “Piper’s Pit,” in which he would interview grapplers and celebrities.
As a movie and TV actor, Piper is perhaps best known for playing Nada — a drifter who discovers through the use of sunglasses that the entire human race is being manipulated by aliens — in John Carpenter’s They Live (1988).
“I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass … and I’m all out of bubble gum,” he says in one memorable line.
Piper also appeared in two episodes of FXX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, playing a struggling — and unstable — wrestler called Da‘ Maniac. His most recent episode aired in 2013.
WWE chairman Vince McMahon paid tribute to one of the ring’s greatest heels shortly after the news broke.
“Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE,” McMahon wrote on Twitter. “[B]eloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”
“One of the true greats of all time,” actor and wrestler John Cena wrote on Twitter after the news broke. “My heart goes out to his family and the fans he entertained over the years. RIP Rowdy.”
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