WWE Hall of Famer George ‘The Animal’ Steele dead at 79
George “The Animal” Steele, a WWE Hall of Famer and one of the great characters in pro wrestling, has died at age 79, WWE reported on Friday.
Steele died in hospice care on Thursday night. He had been battling illnesses since 2015.
One of the great heels in the sport, Steele was known for his green tongue and his love for dining on turnbuckles.
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.
Steele, whose real name was William James Myers, was an educated man, with a bachelor of science degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree from Central Michigan University.
Steele and his wife, Pat Myers, were married for over 60 years and had three children: Dennis, Randy and Felicia.
His colleagues posted their sympathies after the news was made public.
Sorry to hear of the passing of George "The Animal" Steele–top star, great guy, had some fun car trips/talks with him in the 90's. #RIP
— Jim Cornette (@TheJimCornette) February 17, 2017
Got the privilege of traveling the world with George 'The Animal' Steele and enjoyed every minute of it. RIP my friend. pic.twitter.com/UnbhTaY9Qt
— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) February 17, 2017
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) February 17, 2017
REST IN PEACE GEORGE THE ANIMAL STEELE. YOU WERE ALWAYS THE INTELLIGENT BROTHER I LOVE YOU pic.twitter.com/4yQ1YyzyJ2
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) February 17, 2017
I feared him as a kid.
I cheered him as a teenager
I became friends w/him as an adult
Never be another like
George the Animal Steele pic.twitter.com/TdrIfod68i
— Tommy Dreamer (@THETOMMYDREAMER) February 17, 2017
George"the Animal"Steel,RIP my brother,only love,only grateful. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) February 17, 2017