By Seth Kelley, Variety
William James Myers, better known by his name in the WWE ring, George “The Animal” Steele, has died, WWE announced Friday morning. He was 79.
The wrestling company issued a statement after Hulk Hogan tweeted out, “George ‘the Animal’ Steel, RIP my brother, only love, only grateful.” No other details about his cause of death have been released.
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— WWE (@WWE) February 17, 2017
A Detroit native, Steele attended Michigan State and played for the university’s football team. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s, he coached wrestling and football in Michigan.
George ‘the Animal’ Steele in ‘Ed Wood’: Watch a trailer:
Steele first entered the ring under the pseudonym “The Student.” But when he was scouted and began appearing on television, he changed his name to George Steele. Earning his nickname “The Animal,” Steele was known for tearing up the turnbuckle with his teeth, sticking out his green tongue and generally acting like a wild man. He was inducted into the professional wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005.
— Triple H (@TripleH) 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
Watch George “the Animal” Steele and Hulk Hogan square off in a 1984 WWE match:
Outside of wrestling, Steele made his film debut in 1994 with Tim Burton’s Ed Wood in which he played Swedish wrestler-turned-actor Tor Johnson. His other credits include several shorts, 1997’s Blowfish and 2003’s Small Town Conspiracy.
“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer George ‘The Animal’ Steele has passed away at age of 79,” the WWE twitter account wrote.
Watch George ‘the Animal’ Steele talk about Wrestlemania 2: