NEW YORK (AP) — “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, who trash-talked his way to the main event of the first WrestleMania and later found movie stardom, has died. He was 61.
The WWE says Piper died Friday. It had no additional details.
In an email to Variety, Piper’s agent Jay Schacter said, “Rod passed peacefully in his sleep last night. I am shocked and beyond devastated.”
Piper, born Roderick Toombs, was the second WWE Hall of Famer to die this summer following the June death of Dusty Rhodes. Piper’s death also comes days after Hulk Hogan, his biggest rival for decades, was fired by the WWE for using racial slurs.
Piper and Hogan battled for years and headlined some of the biggest matches during the 1980s. Hogan and Mr. T defeated Piper and Paul Orndorff on March 31, 1985, at the first WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden.
“Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved millions of fans around the world,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”
Piper was also well known for his acting roles, including the lead in the cult hit “They Live.”
According to KPTV in Portland, in 2012, Piper helped bring back “Portland Wrestling Uncut,” which aired on KPTV and KPDX.
Piper and his wife lived in Portland. He was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in 2006.
Piper had been scheduled to appear on “The Inappropriate Earl Podcast” Friday, and host Earl Skakel tweeted his shock over the death.
Piper is survived by his wife, three daughters and son.