George “The Animal” Steele, RIP
One of pro wrestling's greats, George "The Animal" Steele (born William James Myers), has died at age 79. From the WWE:
Steele was one of the wildest and most unpredictable Superstars in sports-entertainment history. Yet, despite his green tongue, hairy torso and insatiable appetite for turnbuckle pads, "The Animal" was a very well-educated man. Prior to breaking into sports-entertainment, Steele received his Master’s Degree from Central Michigan University and became a high school teacher and wrestling coach in the Detroit area.
It was during his teaching stint that he began moonlighting in sports-entertainment, working in the Detroit-area promotions. Steele’s first WWE appearances took place in 1967, when he began a heated rivalry with WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino. For nearly 20 years, Steele was a reviled villain, managed by the likes of fellow WWE Hall of Famers The Grand Wizard, "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Capt. Lou Albano and Mr. Fuji. His classic main events against Sammartino, Pedro Morales and Bob Backlund saw him come close to winning the WWE Championship on many occasions.
Steel shook off his villain persona in the mid-'80s to become one of the most loved wrestlers. He also played Swedish wrestler/actor Tor Johnson is Tim Burton's Ed Wood. George, you were one a kind and one of the best. Rest in peace.
Watch some footage of George in action, and read remembrances from fellow wrestlers and listen to Half Japanese's song about Steel, "Charmed Life," below.