(CBS SF/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, July 31st but provided no additional details. In 2006, he battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but later said he had beaten the cancer. In recent months, Piper was active in the charity Stand For The Silent, an organization aimed at honoring the victims of bullying and bringing awareness to the issue.
Piper, born Roderick Toombs, was the second WWE Hall of Famer to die this summer following the June death of Dusty Rhodes.
Piper became a household name because of his rivalry with Hulk Hogan, and the involvement of pop star Cyndi Lauper and her friend Captain Lou Albano. 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 keeping the WWF championship. A brawl at the end of that fight would lead to the first WrestleMania.
In a statement to TMZ, “I will forever miss him.” Hulk Hogan said. “He was my best friend. He is a legend.”
Hogan also tweeted:
Another wrestling icon, Ric Flair issued a statement, also through TMZ:
“We’ve shared the ring, traveled the world, maintained a friendship throughout the ups and downs of the wrestling world, and battled to see who was the better heel. It’s almost impossible to express my grief. My condolences to his children and to his wife Kitty.” – Ric Flair
Flair also tweeted:
Friends & celebrities remember the late wrestler through social media:
Piper is survived by wife Kitty and their four children.
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