Arts & Entertainment

Pro wrestler 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper dead at 61; watch 7 of his greatest moments, see reactions

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper attends the WrestleMania 25th anniversary press conference at the Hard Rock Caf‚ on March 31, 2009 in New York City.
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Hulk Hogan prepares to slam "Rowdy" Roddy Piper down on the mat during WrestleMania, a wrestling extravaganza at New York's Madison Square Garden, March 31, 1985.
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(L-R) Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka looks on as WWE Superstar Chris Jericho battles "Rowdy" Roddy Piper during WrestleMania 25 at Reliant Stadium on April 5, 2009 in Houston, Texas.
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Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali tries to prevent Rowdy Roddy Piper from entering the ring illegally during the WrestleMania event on Sunday, March 31, 1985 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
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Pro wrester Roddy Piper and actor Mickey Rourke arrive at the premiere of Fox Searchlight's "The Wrestler" held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Dec. 16, 2008 in Beverly Hills.
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Ric "Nature Boy" Flair (L) and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (R) attends the WrestleMania 25th anniversary press conference at the Hard Rock Caf‚ on March 31, 2009 in New York City.
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Pro wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper has died. The death was confirmed by his representative, Jay Schachter, in a statement sent to KPCC. Piper (real name Roderick Toombs) was 61 years old.

"Rod passed peacefully in his sleep last night," the statement read. "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."

Piper was a major part of the rise of the World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s, particularly at the first Wrestlemania, where he teamed with Paul Orndorff in a tag team match against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.

The company, now WWE, issued its own statement:

"WWE is deeply saddened that Roderick Toombs, aka 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper — WWE Hall of Famer and Intercontinental Champion — passed away today at the age of 61. WWE extends its sincerest condolences to Toombs’ family, friends and fans."

John Carpenter tweet

Piper crossed over to become a B-movie star, delivering the iconic line in 1988 John Carpenter movie "They Live": "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubble gum."

They Live clip

It also included a long fight scene with actor Keith David that was such a knockdown, drag-out fight that it became a key part of the cult classic, including an homage on the cartoon "South Park."

Keith David tweet

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon issued a statement on Piper's death:

"Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family."

Piper also appeared in the movies "Bodyslam" and "Hell Comes To Frogtown," as well as appearing on the FX sitcom "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" as a pro wrestler.

It's Always Sunny tweet

Piper was considered one of the greatest talkers in professional wrestling history, with dynamic speaking that caught the public's attention. His character would also interview other pro wrestlers in his "Piper's Pit" interview segment, remembered for being a button-pushing bad guy character.

Piper is the second WWE Hall of Fame wrestler to die this summer, following the June death of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes (Real name: Virgil Runnels Jr.). It's also just a week after his storyline rival Hogan was fired from WWE after the release of a conversation where he used racial slurs captured on a sex tape recorded without his knowledge.

When Piper was starting out in wrestling, the first area he found success in was Southern California, according to the Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer. In recent years, Piper had also taken up podcasting.

Watch Piper at a live show delivering a speech after being inducted in WWE's Hall of Fame:

Hall of Fame followup

Watch Piper in a segment with Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, likely the most famous "Piper's Pit" of all time as Piper's racist bad guy character smashes a coconut over Snuka's head:

Snuka video

Watch Piper interviewing Andre The Giant on "Piper's Pit":

Andre The Giant interview

Watch Piper promoting a storyline with Bret Hart:

Bret Hart video

Watch Piper interview Jesse "The Body" Ventura:

Jesse Ventura video

Watch Piper interviewing Frank Williams in "Piper's Pit," the segment where he coined his catchphrase, "Just when you think you have all the answers, I change the questions.":

Frank Williams interview

Read more reactions to Piper's death from colleagues and beyond:

VInce McMahon tweet

Vince McMahon tweet 2

Cyndi Lauper tweet

Jake Roberts tweet

Seth Green tweet

Jesse Ventura tweet

John Cena tweet

Triple H tweet

Chris Jericho Instagram

Cristela tweet

Gene Okerlund tweet

Iron Sheik tweet

Iron Sheik tweet 2

Goldberg tweet

William Regal tweet

William Regal tweet 2

Natty Neidhart Instagram

Stephanie McMahon tweet

DDP tweet

Dana White tweet

Jim Ross tweet

Torrie Wilson Instagram

Kevin Nash tweet

Zack Ryder tweet

Eric Bischoff tweet

Leva Bates tweet

Wil Wheaton tweet

George Wallace tweet

Rhea Butcher tweet

Jonny Fairplay tweet

Joey Styles tweet

Edge tweet

Rob Schamberger tweet

This story has been updated.