Pro wrestling manager William Moody, better known as his character “Paul Bearer,” passed away Tuesday evening, according to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) . Bearer debuted in 1991 managing the Undertaker, one of the most famed pro wrestlers of all time. Bearer was 58 years old.
He provided a voice for the Undertaker, who didn’t talk for large portions of his career, enabling the Undertaker to become a main event-level entertainer. Bearer’s grating high-pitched voice made fans around the country want to see him get beaten up, and the storylines eventually delivered those fans’ hearts’ desires.
Bearer made his debut early in Undertaker’s career, in Feb. 1991, taking over as ’Taker’s manager months after he first debuted in the then-WWF. In real life, he was a funeral director, so WWE took the opportunity to build a character around that piece of reality. Bearer appeared as both friend and foe of the Undertaker for the next decade.
He left an active role after Wrestlemania 2000 in Anaheim, with sporadic appearances after that. His most recent WWE appearance was just last April. He'd recently appeared as another of his characters, Percy Pringle III, for "Championship Wrestling from Hollywood" in Glendale.
"WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of William Moody, aka Paul Bearer," the company said in a statement. "Our deepest condolences go out to Moody’s family, friends and fans."
Watch Bearer’s WWF debut:
Many of Bearer's colleagues shared their condolences.
This picture was taken 10 days ago...we lost a dear friend today..you will be missed by many, Paul Bearer. twitter.com/JerryLawler/st…— Jerry Lawler (@JerryLawler) March 6, 2013
Very sad to hear about William Moody/Paul Bearer. Such a sweet man, and my friend. My condolences to his family. I'll miss ya Uncle Paul— Adam (Edge) Copeland (@EdgeRatedR) March 6, 2013
Very sad night. RIP Paul Bearer, a man I grew up watching on tv and was lucky enough to have later on, as a friend. twitter.com/JustinRoberts/…— Justin Roberts (@JustinRoberts) March 6, 2013
Just found out Paul Bearer died tonight.He was always so nice when I talked to him. My thoughts n prayers are w/ his family #RIPPaulBearer— The Miz (@mikethemiz) March 6, 2013
Just informed via wwe.com Paul Bearer aka Percy Pringle passed away earlier today. I have no other details. RIP old friend.— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) March 6, 2013
Rest in peace, Paul Bearer. You will never be forgotten. There will never be another.— Triple H (@TripleH) March 6, 2013
Saddened to hear of my pal Paul Bearer passing away. I was informed a few moments after he silently went. A great fellow has gone— Honky Tonk Man (@OfficialHTM) March 6, 2013
Goodbye to a good friend, Paul Bearer. Say hi to Owen for me.— Bret Hart (@BretHart) March 6, 2013
Sad to hear about the passing of Paul Bearer.One of the best managers of all time.Pretty sure EVERYONE has tried imitating his voice— Tyson Kidd (@KiddWWE) March 6, 2013
Saddened to learn of the passing of Paul Bearer (William Moody). He was a unique, one of a kind individual both in and out of the ring. RIP— Howard Finkel (@howardfinkel) March 6, 2013
A fan compilation of memorable Paul Bearer appearances: