The world of wrestling lost a true hero this week, while the movie world also lost someone very special. Rowdy Roddy Piper, born Roderick George Toombs, passed away on Thursday aged 61.
Piper died from cardiac arrest in his sleep at his home in Hollywood on Thursday night. He was discovered on Friday, July 31st. He was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2006 but was declared free from cancer last November.
Piper became a household name to wrestling fans in the 80’s, and while he was technically a villain, fans adored him because he was just so full of life, so energetic and so god damned funny.
I was a huge fan of wrestling in the 80’s, especially the WWF where Piper found his home, and he never failed to make me laugh. Whether it was painting himself half black to annoy Bad News Brown, or the grunts he would make while fighting in the ring, to his insane pre-match interviews and behaviour. Piper was always exciting, always fascinating and always fun to behold, and you could be sure that if there would never be a dull moment with him around.
Piper took part in the first Wrestlemania, and it was his feud with Hulk Hogan that lead to the main event. Piper also won the WWF Intercontinental Championship in 1992 from The Mountie, and his was the only title he ever won. I doubt he cared too much about titles though, he was too busy having fun! He was the most popular villain of the WWF in the 80’s and became a fan favourite leading into the 90’s.
Piper also appeared in over 100 films and TV shows, and he’s probably best remembered for his iconic role as Nada in John Carpenters 1988sci-fi horror, They Live. In the film Piper brilliantly delivered the line “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum,”
Another cult favourite he will always be remembered for was his role of Sam Hell in the 1988 comedy sci-fi, Hell Comes to Frogtown, directed by Donald G. Jackson and R.J. Kizer.
Sadly Piper had a large amount of films in pre-production, just announced or in post-production, so while there are still a few films left for fans to still be able to see him, there are also a number which sadly we won’t get to see.
One of those films was Portal to Hell!!!, a short film which is now in post-production and, sadly, will be Pipers last work. In the film he will do battle with Cathulhu, and there were plans for the short to be developed into a feature length film.
However you remember Rowdy Roddy Piper, and whatever you loved him for, the world has lost a special icon, a man full of life, full of energy and full of happiness. Watch his early wrestling days, even when he was playing angry he was laughing. I have also read reports on him as a person after his sad passing, and those who have met him have nothing but warmness towards such a big character, and all have said he would do anything for anyone.
R.I.P. Rowdy Roddy Piper, a true hero and a true legend.