'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, WWE legend, dead at 61
Born Roderick George Toombs, Saskatchewan native joined the WWE in 1984
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper, the kilt wearing trash talker who headlined the first WrestleMania and later found movie stardom, has died, the WWE said Friday. He was 61.
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"He was one of the most generous, sincere and authentic people I have ever known," said his agent, Jay Schacter.
His daughter also tweeted a message and pictures of her father on Friday evening.
RIP dad. I will always love you. ❤️ <a href="https://twitter.com/R_Roddy_Piper">@R_Roddy_Piper</a> <a href="http://t.co/gJZSurZRz9">pic.twitter.com/gJZSurZRz9</a>—@FalonToombs
And other WWE stars began sharing and sending their condolences as well.
Saddened about the passing of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. He was truly a legend and icon, and will never be forgotten... <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThankYouRoddy?src=hash">#ThankYouRoddy</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RIP?src=hash">#RIP</a>—@TripleH
Heartbroken & numb @ news of Roddy Piper. One of my best friends. Many memories. Prayers & love to his family @ this time. RIP Hot Rod.—@_SgtSlaughter
One of the true greats of all time. My heart goes out to his family and the fans he entertained over the years. RIP Rowdy.—@JohnCena
One of the most mesmerizing and inspiring people I ever met in wrestling… RIP Mr. Piper. And thank you for this… <a href="http://t.co/rn7YNyn3jr">pic.twitter.com/rn7YNyn3jr</a>—@FightOwensFight
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. Hogan had used racial slurs in a conversation captured on a sex tape.
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.
Piper was a villain for the early portion of his career, once cracking a coconut over the skull of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. He later starred in the movie They Live.
The Saskatchewan-born wrestler, who was known just as well for his mouth as his might, also hosted the Winnipeg Comedy Festival in 2006.
"I thought they were nuts," said Piper at the time of the festival organizers. "Do you know my reputation?"
WWE chairman Vince McMahon called Piper "one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world."
Piper also went by the nickname "Hot Rod" during his career. Although he was Canadian, he often appeared in a kilt and came to the ring blowing bagpipes in a nod to his Scottish heritage.
Main evented first WrestleMania
Piper was best known for his lengthy career with the World Wrestling Federation, now the WWE. He had more than 30 titles to his name and was inducted into the company's Hall of Fame in 1985.
Piper became a household name because of his rivalry with Hogan, and the involvement of pop star Cyndi Lauper and her friend Captain Lou Albano, also a wrestler. The feud led to an MTV special The War to Settle the Score in 1985. Piper was cast as the villain, and his disqualification led to Hogan claiming the WWF championship.
A brawl at the end of that fight led to the first WrestleMania.
Piper also had well-known rivalries with Rick Rude and Adrian Adonis, among others.
Starred in 'They Live'
In addition to his celebrity in the ring, Piper appeared in John Carpenter's 1988 cult classic They Live. In that film, he delivered the memorable line: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass — and I'm all out of bubblegum."
"He was a great wrestler. He was an underrated actor and just a marvelous entertainer and I feel like I've just lost one of my close friends," Carpenter told The Associated Press.
Carpenter said when he last saw Piper, his friend had just had shoulder surgery but was doing well.
"His outlook was very good," he said. "Roddy will always be loved because of his wrestling career," Carpenter said. "He really became a legend in pro wrestling. He will not be forgotten."
I'm devastated by the passing of my friend Roddy Piper. Great wrestler, underrated actor, dear friend. Rest in peace, Rod.—@TheHorrorMaster
.<a href="https://twitter.com/R_Roddy_Piper">@R_Roddy_Piper</a> was my friend and I will sorely miss him. I'm just in shock. <a href="http://t.co/nImyPnMwKj">pic.twitter.com/nImyPnMwKj</a>—@ImKeithDavid
Former Survivor star Jonny Fairplay started work in 2001 as Piper's personal assistant.
"I would wake him up in the morning and yell at him from the door of his bedroom," he said. "I'd say, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, 'the guy who never beat Hulk Hogan."'
Fairplay named his daughter Piper in honor of the wrestler.
"Rowdy Piper should be remembered as the greatest bad guy of all time," he said.
More recently, Piper appeared in the show Celebrity Wife Swap, trading wives with fellow former wrestler Ric Flair.
Piper battled Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2006, but later said he had beaten the cancer.
A native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Piper is survived by his wife Kitty and their four children.