Renowned WWE wrestler Roddy Piper, widely known as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, has died. He was 61.
Piper’s agent, Jay Schachter, confirmed to EW that he died “peacefully in his sleep” on Thursday night.
“I am shocked and beyond devastated,” Schachter said in an email. “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, born Roderick George Toombs, was known as one of wrestling’s bad boys, so much that WWE crowned him as the sport’s greatest villain during his lengthy career. He began wrestling in 1969 and fought in over 7,000 matches until his retirement in 2011.
“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 wrote in a statement on Friday. “WWE extends its sincerest condolences to Toombs’ family, friends and fans.”
WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon added, “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 was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 in a class that included Hulk Hogan, Bret “Hit Man” Hart, and The Iron Sheik. “Roddy is the greatest entertainer in wrestling History, bar none,” said Ric Flair, who inducted Piper.
He also made his way to the silver screen in the 1980s, earning cult status as the hero of John Carpenter’s campy but political sci-fi satire They Live. Piper played a blue-collar worker who discovers aliens are using invisible messages to mind-control the human race. The film originated the oft-quoted line, ad-libbed by Piper during filming: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
Piper went on to star in a slew of movies and TV series, including several projects that are currently in post-production.
He was also the host of Piper’s Pit in the 1980s. WWE described as its “most incendiary talk show” and featured interviews with other wrestlers. It was resurrected as a podcast in 2014.
Some of Piper’s wrestling colleagues mourned his death on Twitter.
Piper is survived by his wife, Kitty, and their four children.