One of the WWE’s most beloved stars of the 1980’s Rock N’ Wrestling era, WWE Hall of Famer George “The Animal” Steele, passed away this morning after a lengthy illness. He entered hospice last night where he passed away surrounded by family. His passing was first announced by Hulk Hogan on his Twitter this morning. He was 79 years old
George"the Animal"Steel,RIP my brother,only love,only grateful. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) February 17, 2017
The news was later confirmed by the WWE.
— WWE (@WWE) February 17, 2017
Unlike his wild and savage character, George “The Animal” Steele – real name Jim Myers – was well educated individual from the Detroit, Michigan area, originally beginning his career as a high school teacher at Madison High in Madison Heights. To supplement his income, he entered the world of professional wrestling in 1967 and never looked back. Originally starting as a protégée of manager Gary Hart, as the masked man known as The Student, Myers soon caught the attention of WWWF World Champion Bruno Sammartino, who convinced Steele to expand his mad-man gimmick, but to remove his mask. Through Bruno’s assistance, Steele soon began working the circuit for Vince McMahon Snr’s WWWF.
Throughout the 1970’s, Steele was one of the WWWF’s top heels, with rivalries against Chief Jay Strongbow, Eduoard Carpentier, Victor Rivera and even against World Champion Sammartino. His outlandish Wildman antics, his shaggy hairy body and his green tongue inspired fear and panic from the audience during a time when kayfabe was very much alive (he acquired his green tongue from eating multitudes of green Clorets mouth mints). Unlike his most popular run in the 80’s, George “The Animal” Steele spoke rather eloquently during the 1970’s. It wasn’t until Vince McMahon Jr., took over the WWWF – now renamed the WWF – and encouraged George to be more guttural and play up his “Animal” moniker.
He soon became a fan favourite, becoming allies of the US Express (Barry Windham & Mike Rotunda) and later Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, in his legendary feud with Randy “Macho Man” Savage. His adoration for Savage’s valet Miss Elizabeth was a pro wrestling version of Beauty and the Beast.
After a 21-year career, Steele retired in 1988, although he would briefly come out of retirement in 1998 as part of the Oddities, during the Attitude Era. Following his retirement, he would work on-and-off with the WWE as a road agent and producer as well as heading to Hollywood, most notably in the 1994 Tim Burton biopic Ed Wood.
In 2005, Steele was inducted into the 2005 Class of the WWE Hall of Fame. His crazy antics – from eating turnbuckles and filling the air with it’s fluffy white stuffing (which more often than not got tangles in his body hair) to his stuffed doll “Mine” to his climactic Hammerlock finishing move – George “The Animal” Steele will live on in the hearts of wrestling fans worldwide.
The staff of Last Word on Pro Wrestling wishes to offer condolences to the entire Myers family at this time.
REST IN PEACE GEORGE THE ANIMAL STEELE. YOU WERE ALWAYS THE INTELLIGENT BROTHER I LOVE YOU pic.twitter.com/4yQ1YyzyJ2
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) February 17, 2017
— Court Bauer (@courtbauer) February 17, 2017
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) February 17, 2017
RIP Jim Myers AKA George The animal Steel.Jim, talked me into my job at WWE and was great friend Traveled world with him was great HS coach
— Gbrisco?♂️ (@Fgbrisco) February 17, 2017
Got the privilege of traveling the world with George 'The Animal' Steele and enjoyed every minute of it. RIP my friend. pic.twitter.com/UnbhTaY9Qt
— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) February 17, 2017
Main Photo: WWE.com