Yesterday, Canadian professional wrestler and actor Roderick George Toombs (A.K.A. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper) died in his Hollywood home from cardiac arrest. The news has shocked and saddened the professional wrestling world, as he was a prominent figure in the business.
Toombs was born in 1954 to a family of mainly Scottish descent. Later in his life, he adapted his upbringing to the famous gimmick of a fired-up Scotsman named "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Toombs initially took up boxing before taking an interest in wrestling at age 15.
After wrestling for several different associations, he started wrestling for the WWF (later WWE) in 1984. He has since become a legend in the company as one of the best heels (scripted villains in professional wrestling) of all time. In fact, pro-wrestling publication Wrestling Observer Newsletter voted Piper as "Best Heel" in both 1984 and 1985. The pure amount of charisma and effort mad him one of those wrestling villains audiences loved to hate.
During his WWF/WWE career, Toombs starred in a recurring in-ring interview segment called "Piper's Pit," and held both the Intercontinental championship and the World Tag Team Championship.
In 2005, Toombs was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Ric Flair, who recently released a statement to TMZ on Toombs' passing:
We've shared the ring, traveled the world, maintained a friendship throughout the ups and downs of the wrestling world, and battled to see who was the better heel...It's almost impossible to express my grief. My condolences to his children and to his wife Kitty. I'll miss you Roddy. The world will never be as Rowdy without you.
In addition to being a star in the ring, Toombs starred in the classic John Carpenter film, They Live. In it, he played an unemployed drifter who ends up hunting aliens disguised as human beings. Both Toombs and Carpenter were responsible for the classic line: "I have comer here to chew bubble gum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubble gum." Carpenter had this to say about Toombs:
“I’m devastated by the passing of my friend Roddy Piper...Great wrestler, underrated actor, dear friend. Rest in peace, Rod.”