WWE legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper died after suffering a heart attack in his Hollywood home. He was 61.
Piper’s agent Jay Schacter confirmed the news, first reported by TMZ, to Variety. “Rod passed peacefully in his sleep last night,” Schacter said in an email. “I am shocked and beyond devastated.” Piper had suffered a bout of Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2006 but was reportedly deemed cancer-free last November.
Born Roderick George Toombs, Piper joined the WWE in 1984 after getting his start with the NWA in the late 1970s. He and Hulk Hogan met in landmark matchups including MTV’s “The War to Settle the Score” and the first WrestleMania, where Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff took on Hogan and Mr. T.
Not being much of a wrestling fan I loved Piper for his film work, specifically They Live and Hell Comes To Frogtown.
Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987) was created by Donald G. Jackson, set in an post apocalyptic wasteland where few fertile men and women exist due to atomic fallout and, as a result, the government places a high priority on those that can still breed. Sam Hell (Piper), a nomadic traveler who wanders the countryside is captured by an organization of warrior-nurses, who reveal that they located him by tracking the trail of pregnant women left in his wake. Awesome fun.
They Live follows a nameless drifter referred to as Nada (Piper), who discovers the ruling class are in fact aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed and accept the status quo via subliminal messages in the mass media (way ahead of its time!).
Director John Carpenter wanted Roddy Piper after they met at WrestleMania III earlier in 1987. For Carpenter it was an easy choice: “Unlike most Hollywood actors, Roddy has life written all over him.”
The movie featured Roddy’s now famous line: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.” R.I.P. Roddy.