William Moody, better known in the wrestling community by his stage name Paul Bearer, passed away Tuesday evening, according to an official statement released by the WWE. He was 58 years old.
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.
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 6, 3:25 p.m. ET by Donald Wood
According to TMZ.com, WWE legend Paul Bearer had been dealing with blood clots and breathing issues in the weeks prior to his death:
Just three days before Paul Bearer died, he complained he was suffering a blood clot ... TMZ has learned.
"Cowboy" Bob Kelly -- the prez of a prominent wrestling society called the Cauliflower Alley Club -- tells TMZ he last saw Paul on March 2nd at a Club reunion.
Bob says Paul was in bad health, with a severe breathing problem. According to people at the event, Bearer was coughing and had trouble standing for long periods of time. He told people he was going to seek treatment for what he called "respiratory issues."
---End of update---
Upon hearing of Moody’s passing, many in the WWE community reached out to pass along their condolences via Twitter:
Rest in peace, Paul Bearer. You will never be forgotten. There will never be another.— Triple H (@TripleH) March 6, 2013
I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of Paul Bearer. Our prayers go out to him and his family. God Bless!!— Shawn Michaels (@ShawnMichaels) March 6, 2013
Just found out Paul Bearer died tonight.He was always so nice when I talked to him. My thoughts n prayers are w/ his family #RIPPaulBearer— The Miz (@mikethemiz) March 6, 2013
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— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) March 6, 2013
A legendary managerial figure, Moody’s Bearer character is among the most iconic in WWE history. Standing out due to his ghostly white makeup, high-pitched voice and urn he constantly carried around, Moody was seen as the WWE’s mortician—a role partially taken from Moody’s past life in the funeral home industry.
Moody joined the WWE in late 1990 and the character instantly became a fan favorite—especially once paired with his long-time partner in crime, The Undertaker. The two men would go on to dominate the WWE landscape for much of the 1990s, feuding and then getting back together, but hardly ever spending much time out of each other’s storylines.
Moody’s role within the intricately weaved WWE storylines continued to grow with the company’s introduction of Kane, who was purportedly The Undertaker's brother. Eventually that storyline ended, as did Bearer’s prominence in The Undertaker’s WWE journey, and his on-screen role subsided.
Moody left the WWE in 2002 and was only sporadically seen on the wrestling circuit during his absence. Always a man who carried a few extra pounds, Moody’s weight ballooned to upwards of 500 lbs. during his time out of the sport.
He eventually returned, once again managing The Undertaker in 2004. However, that was only for a short storyline and Moody once again departed the WWE as a full-time employee. He did make some sporadic appearances, most notably returning in 2012, but never reached the same storyline prominence he did during the early 1990s.
Nevertheless, Moody’s name through Bearer will always live on in the WWE community. The Bearer character is one of the more iconic managers in WWE history, and Moody’s portrayal of that character—giving it both heart and the right amount of horror at times—is one of the more underrated and remarkable feats in wrestling history.
Our thoughts are with Moody’s family and the WWE community following this unfortunate tragedy.