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."
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."
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."
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.
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:
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:
Watch Piper interviewing Andre The Giant on "Piper's Pit":
Watch Piper promoting a storyline with Bret Hart:
Watch Piper interview Jesse "The Body" Ventura:
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.":
Read more reactions to Piper's death from colleagues and beyond:
This story has been updated.