Roddy Piper Biography

Roderick George Toombs, better known as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, was a Canadian professional wrestler, actor, and voice-over artist. With his Scottish heritage and iconic kilt, Piper became one of the greatest villains in professional wrestling history. Despite never becoming a world champion, he had an illustrious career in both the American Wrestling Association, World Wrestling Federation, and World Championship Wrestling. Piper’s feud with Hulk Hogan in the mid-1980s marked the beginning of the “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” era. Beyond wrestling, Piper successfully transitioned to acting, with his most memorable role being John Nada in the cult classic film ‘They Live’. In recognition of his contributions, Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

Quick Facts

  • Nick Name: Rowdy
  • Also Known As: Roderick George Toombs, Rowdy Roddy Piper
  • Died At Age: 61
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Kitty Jo Dittrich (m. 1982; his death 2015)
    • Father: Stanley Baird Toombs
    • Mother: Eileen Toombs
    • Children: Anastacia Shea, Ariel Teal, Colton Baird, Falon Danika
  • Born Country: Canada
  • WWE Wrestlers
  • Canadian Men
  • Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), 6’0″ Males
  • Died on: July 31, 2015
  • Place of death: Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Ancestry: Canadian American, Scottish Canadian, Irish Canadian
  • Cause of Death: Cardiopulmonary Arrest
  • City: Saskatoon, Canada

Childhood & Early Life

Roddy Piper was born on April 17, 1954, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. His parents were Eileen and Stanley Baird Toombs. His father was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Piper grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and had a turbulent relationship with his father. He was expelled from Windsor Park Collegiate secondary school for bringing a switchblade, which further strained their relationship. As a teenager, he left home and lived in various youth hostels. He worked odd jobs at local gyms to support himself and was exposed to the culture of professional wrestling during this time. He ran errands for professional wrestlers and learned from them. He also became skilled at playing the bagpipes.

Professional Wrestling Career

Roddy Piper started his career as a boxer and amateur wrestler before entering professional wrestling. He was successful in his early career, winning the Golden Gloves boxing championship and earning a Black Belt in Judo. He began his professional wrestling career under promoter Al Tomko in Canada and made his debut in a “midget wrestling” match. He served as a “jobber” to other wrestlers in the beginning of his career. Piper gained experience and fame in small promotions, adopting various ring names and participating in quality storylines. He became known for his ability to enrage the crowd and even caused a riot in Los Angeles. He eventually signed with WWF (now WWE) and made his official debut in 1984 as a manager. He later transitioned to wrestling and feuded with notable wrestlers such as Jimmy Snuka and Bruno Sammartino. Piper’s storyline with Hulk Hogan led to his appearance in the first WrestleMania in 1985. He also hosted a segment called “Piper’s Pit” from 1984 to 1987. Despite his popularity, Piper only won a few belts during his time with WWF/WWE. He later wrestled for World Championship Wrestling from 1996 to 2000.

Acting Career

In addition to his wrestling career, Roddy Piper had a successful acting career. He made his film debut in 1978 and went on to star in various films and TV shows. One of his most memorable roles was in the cult classic film “They Live” in 1988. He continued to act until his death in 2015, with one of his last notable roles being in the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.

Other Ventures

Roddy Piper contributed a song to “The Wrestling Album” in 1985 and was a respected voice-over artist. He also won the World Tag Team Championship in 2006.

Personal Life and Legacy

Roddy Piper married Kitty Jo Dittrich in 1982 and they had four children together. In 2006, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent treatment. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 61. Piper was a significant figure in professional wrestling and played a crucial role in making it mainstream. He was known for his charisma and ability to engage the audience. Former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey adopted the nickname “Rowdy” in honor of Piper.

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