The world of sports entertainment has lost another legend.
William Moody, better known to wrestling fans as Paul Bearer, the howling ghost-faced manager of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar The Undertaker, died unexpectedly Tuesday at the age of 58.
While the cause of death has not been released, WWE confirmed Moody’s passing on its website with the following statement: “WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of William Moody, aka Paul Bearer. Moody made his WWE debut in 1991 as the manager of The Undertaker and went on to become a memorable part of WWE over the course of the next 20 years.”
Paul Bearer (a play on “pallbearer”) became a favorite among ’90s pro-wrestling fans when he debuted in the then-WWF as the manager of an “undead” character named The Undertaker, who drew his mystical powers of invincibility and resilience from Bearer’s golden burial urn. Bearer also served as the oft silent Undertaker’s high-pitched mouth piece, and delivered some of pro-wrestling’s most memorable interviews. His screeching exclamation, “Oooh yes!” is still a favorite among fans.
In the late ’90s, Bearer went on to manage additional fan favorites, including Mankind (Mick Foley), Vader and Kane, and would eventually feud with The Undertaker until his ringside retirement in 2000. Like most “retired” pro-wrestling personalities, Bearer later returned and closed out his career with sporadic stints alongside The Undertaker from 2003-2012. His last televised appearance with the WWE was in April of last year.
As news of Moody’s death spread late Tuesday, many popular WWE superstars, past and present, reacted to his passing on social media.
“Rest in peace, Paul Bearer,” wrestler Triple H posted on Twitter. “You will never be forgotten. There will never be another.”
Hulk Hogan posted, “Very sad about Paul Bearer, he was a great person and one of the original boys, he was what made wrestling great much love much respect HH”
John Cena paid his respects as well: “I think most everyone in @WWE has a great story about Paul Bearer. I have many, and will always cherish them #RIPPaulBearer.”
Moody is survived by two sons, Michael and Daniel. His late wife, Dianna, died of breast cancer in 2009.
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