'Paul Bearer' dies - 5 facts about WWE star William Moody, Undertaker's manager
Wrestling star Paul Bearer, the manager of WWE legend The Undertaker, has died at age 58.
Bearer, whose real name was William Moody, passed away on Tuesday, March 5. The cause of death was not made public.
"WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of William Moody, aka Paul Bearer," the World Wrestling Entertainment organization said in a statement on its website. "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. Our deepest condolences go out to Moody's family, friends and fans."
He was mourned by a slew of wrestling stars such as Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan and Jerry Lawler -- who posted a recent photo of the two together (see below).
"R.I.P my friend, you will never be replaced," Nash said on Twitter.
"Very sad about Paul Bearer," Hogan Tweeted. "He was a great person and one of the original boys,he was what made wrestling great much love much respect HH. (sic)"
Check out five facts about William Moody, aka Paul Bearer.
1. Moody was a military veteran and a licensed mortician.
The wrestling star was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1954. He served in the United States Air Force for four years after high school, starting in 1972, during the Vietnam War.
"I was blessed that I didn't have to see any of the horrible battles," he wrote on his blog. "Staying stateside I was able to begin my professional wrestling training. Believe it or not, I was in the best shape of my life. I was in the gym or the ring almost every day. I was young, and hungry to live my dreams."
He then became a licensed mortician - in real life. During his time in the Air Force, he worked part time as an Emergency Medical Technician.
"Frequent visits to local Funeral Homes sparked my interest in Mortuary Science," he wrote on his blog's bio. "So oddly enough, my life has always been Wrestling and Funeral Service.
He received a degree in Mortuary Science as well as a Funeral Director/Embalmer's Certification from San Antonio College in Texas and began to work as a mortician. Funeral participants sometimes got a little star-struck.
"I'll have a family in my office, and all of a sudden one of them will look up and say, 'Oh my gosh, Grandma's funeral is being done by Paul Bearer!'" he told the Michigan-based MLive.com in 2011.
"Southern folks are a little bit different in that wrestling is probably bigger than it is to northern folks. I've often had people ask me to stand up next to grandma or grandpa's casket for a picture," he said. "Of course, I have to decline as politely as I can, because that's obviously not appropriate. I'll offer them a chance to come back to my office for an autograph or something, but that's it."
2. Moody lost his wife to cancer.
Moody's wife of 31 years, Dianna, died in 2009 after battling breast cancer.
"When my wife was first diagnosed with cancer in 2001, Vince and Linda and company were always there for me," Moody said in a 2010 interview with the theScore radio show "Right After Wrestling." "When my wife passed away, they were reaching out and taking care of me."
3. Fans liked him so much, they gave him gifts.
He made his wrestling debut in his early 20s in 1974 under the name Mister X. He later began managing other wrestlers. In 1978, he went by the name Percival Pringle III.
Moody joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1990. His character was a funeral director. He wore a black suit, black and white makeup and carried around an urn, which known as a magic power source for The Undertaker. His catchphrase was "Ohhh yyyes!"
Moody left the WWF in 2002 and a year later, signed a new contract with WWE -- the rebranded name of the company.
"Most managers were bad guys," he told the Gadsden Times in 2005. "I never had to work at being a bad guy. Fans give me stuff all the time. They make little caskets for me."
In addition to The Undertaker, Moody has also managed wrestlers such as Kane and Rick Rude.
4. He struggled with obesity and had gastric bypass surgery. Vince McMahon paid for it.
In 2003, the wrestling star underwent gastric bypass surgery. He said in a 2005 interview with GamingRing Radio that at the time, he weighed more than 520 pounds.
"I've always been heavy, in fact I was morbidly obese (before WrestleMania XX)," Moody said on "Right After Wrestling" in 2010. "And [WWE CEO] Vince McMahon picked up the $35,000 tab for the gastric bypass surgery. There's no doubt in my mind, if I didn't have that surgery, I wouldn't be here today, I would have died long before my wife did."
Moody posted "before" and "after" photos on his blog in 2004.
"Last year I felt like I was trying to swim against a current that was too strong. There was a waterfall not too far down stream, that would no doubt end my life," he wrote "My Gastric Bypass Surgery gave me a row boat to paddle my way up the river, away from the danger ... I felt like an old violin, that had been put away never to be played again. Now I am back out of the case, freshly polished, with new strings and all.
5. Moody was a grandfather.
Moody is survived by two sons and three granddaughters.
Moody told the MLive.com in 2011 that he performed at wrestling events "usually two or three times a month," adding: "I'm a grandpa now with three granddaughters (ages 4 through 7). They all understand what I do, especially the 4-year-old. Her daddy wrestles locally down here, so she's really into it."
CORRECTION: This version of the article has been modified to clarify that the WWF was rebranded and renamed WWE.