'Rowdy' Roddy Piper (from The Oregonian archives)
- 31st July 2015
Tom Hallman Jr. | The Oregonian/OregonLive
wrestler 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper arrives at the World
Wrestling Entertainment SummerSlam in 2009. Roderick
George Toombs died at the age of 61 on Friday. (AP
note: This story originally ran in The Oregonian on
November 29, 2006. Rowdy
Roddy Piper died on Friday, July 31, 2015 at the
age of 61.
trendy stores and million-dollar condos changed the
place, Rowdy Roddy Piper took the stage in a run-down
industrial area that respectable Portlanders avoided
after dark. The professional wrestler worked out of
the old Portland Armory, in a smoke-filled arena that's
been transformed into Portland Center Stage's new
when the Armory filled up with the kind of people
parents warned kids to avoid, nothing could keep Piper
flat on his back. Not the sucker punches, the blind
referee or even the amazing super-secret death grip
brought to Portland from the distant shores of the
Orient. No matter how bad the beating, Piper struggled
to his feet before the ref slapped the mat three times.
it came as a surprise to learn a cancer has knocked
Piper out of the ring. The prognosis, at least according
to the website where it was announced, looks good
with radiation therapy.
so, the Hodgkin's disease that has sidelined Rowdy
Roddy is a sign that time waits for no one -- how
could Piper be 52? -- and that another chapter in
Portland's small-city history is drawing to a close.
bouts took place on Saturday nights and for a while
were broadcast live in prime time. One wrestler, Lonnie
Mayne, ate light bulbs on camera. When the TV announcer
interviewed the wrestlers during breaks, threats and
insults invariably launched a melee that was all part
of the show. And before his skills and acting took
him around the world, that is where Piper plied his
was a caricature, loud and over the top, and he had
some driving-under-the-influence run-ins with the
law. On stage and in the ring, he was the kind of
wrestler fans loved and hated, sometimes in the same
match. Piper played the crowd like a maestro, but
Tuesday's cancer announcement was a reminder that
the man and the actor were separate people.
-- always a man of, oh, about 100 words -- was succinct
in his website statement. He and his family expressed
thanks for the "overwhelming support" from
fans across the world. "It seems like I have
been fighting someone, something, someplace, in some
manner, my whole life," Piper wrote. "But
this fight is one I am gonna win!"
has put down roots in Oregon. He and his wife, Kitty
Jo, plus four children and a granddaughter live near
Hillsboro. Although he may travel the world for World
Wrestling Entertainment, Hillsboro has been home for
the past 20 years.
organization released a statement saying that Piper
was "sent home early from WWE's early November
tour of the United Kingdom and hospitalized for surgery,
where doctors removed a mass at the spinal cord with
an enlarged lymph node. The mass was completely removed,
but the lymph node was positive for Hodgkin's lymphoma."
therapy is used to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is
an extremely successful procedure; so the prognosis
is very good."
Villa, a WWE official, was unsure where Piper was
receiving treatment or when the family would release
of Piper's illness sent ripples through the wrestling
world. Greg Tingle, a
fan in Sydney, Australia, has a Web page devoted to
Piper is one of the world's most successful and respected
wrestlers of all time," Tingle said in a phone
interview. "He is a true icon."
has said he's fought a record 7,000 matches as a pro
and was the youngest pro wrestler, at age 15.
started as a brawler and over the years matured and
treated it as a profession," said Tingle. "He
knew it was entertainment and a business. He helped
bridge the old school and the new era of pro wrestlers."
has appeared in more than 30 movies and is the co-author
of a book, "In the Pit With Piper: Roddy Gets
Rowdy," referring to his "Piper's Pit"
segment on World Wrestling Federation TV.
been around the world seven times," Piper once
said, "been stabbed three times, been down in
an airplane and once dated the Bearded Lady. I've
had Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy as a tag-team partner.
I've been in 30 car crashes, none of 'em my fault,
I swear on a stack of midgets. . . . OK, they were
probably all my fault."
here for full article and multimedia
Roddy Piper in 1989. Steven Nehl/Oregonian file photo
Rourke, left, star of "The Wrestler," poses
with former pro wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
at the premiere of the film at the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif.,
Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008. (AP Photo)