Another wrestling legend has left the ring for good, as George ‘The Animal’ Steel has passed away. The WWE Hall Of Famer, known for crazy antics and battles with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, was 79 years old.
The news of George “The Animal” Steele’s death came from another fellow WWE/WWF legend, Hulk Hogan, 63. “George ‘The Animal’ Steele, RIP my brother, only love, only grateful,” the wrestling icon tweeted, revealing George’s tragic fate while breaking the hearts of wrestling fans everywhere. WWE legend Jim Ross, 65, would confirm George’s death.
George had been under hospice care do to ongoing health issues, specifically problems with his kidneys, according to Wrestling News Source. Eric Simms, George’s friend and longtime wrestling agent, gave an update on Feb. 16, telling friends and fans that George’s time on this earth was coming to an end.
“Keep George Steele in your prayers,” he wrote. “It’s not looking good. I am glad I got a chance to talk to him about 3 weeks ago. I had the chance to say good-bye. He thanked me for all the hard work that I do / did. He said I made a difference. He was always one of my favorites to work with.
“He said he appreciated me. It kind of brought a tear to my eye. All the hard work finally paid off. At least in his eyes. Thank you for being a mentor to me.” Eric would also write,“RIP. George Steele” on Feb. 17.
“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer William James Myers, known to fans as George “The Animal” Steele has passed away at the age of 79,” the WWE said in a statement. “Steele was one of the wildest and most unpredictable Superstars in sports-entertainment history.”
Born in Detroit, Michigan on April 16, 1937, George would get into the wrestling business as a way to supplement his income as a high school teacher. He wrestled in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (a precursor to the WWF/WWE), battling Bruno Sammartino and Chief Jay Strongbow. Christened George Steele, he would adopt “The Animal” gimmick, portraying a wild man who barely spoke.
Before each match, he would attack a turnbuckle, tearing it open with his teeth. The spectacle would intimidate opponents and win the love of fans. His most famous feud came in the WWF, with the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage, after George developed a crush on the late Miss Elizabeth. He ultimately retired in 1988 due to contracting Crohn’s disease, but he would still make several appearances at wrestling events in the following decades.
George would also have a high-profile role in Tim Burton’s movie, Ed Wood. George would portray Tor Johnson, a wrestler-turned-actor. Coincidentally, George claimed he would often be mistaken for the Plan 9 From Outer Space actor, and that a New York novelty shop sold a Tor Johnson mask as a George Steele mask due to the wrestler’s popularity at the time.
Our thoughts are with George’s family, friends and fans during this time of loss. HollywoodLifers, share your favorite George “The Animal” Steele moment below.