They Live star and wrestling legend 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper dead at 61

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Aug 2, 2015, 7:52 PM EDT (Updated)

Cardiac arrest has claimed one of wrestling's most iconic names and the star of one of the screen's greatest fight scenes.

The Wrap reported late Friday afternoon (July 31) that "Rowdy" Roddy Piper died of cardiac arrest at his home in Hollywood at the age of 61.

Born Roderick George Toombs in Saskatchewan, Canada, on April 17, 1954, Piper made his pro wrestling debut at the age of 15. Playing the bagpipes on his way into the ring (a nod to his Scottish lineage), Toombs was announced as "Roddy the Piper," which was eventually shortened to Roddy Piper. The "Rowdy" came later and was due to his "Scottish rage" in the ring.

Piper worked his way through the American Wrestling Association, the National Wrestling Alliance and World Championship Wrestling before eventually joining the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) full-time in 1984, where he became one of its biggest villains and all-around stars. He later returned to WCW and then did two stints with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Piper dabbled in acting throughout his career, but sci-fi fans will remember him for his singular leading role in John Carpenter's 1988 cult classic They Live. Piper played a drifter named Nada who finds a pair of sunglasses that enables him to see that society's ruling class has been replaced by aliens.

The movie featured perhaps one of the greatest onscreen fistfights of all time, between Nada and Frank Armitage (Keith David), a construction worker who eventually believes Nada's story and joins him in the fight against the aliens.

On his Twitter feed, Carpenter called Piper an "underrated actor" and "dear friend." David, meanwhile, tweeted that he is in shock and will "sorely miss him." Piper's final social media post was to promote today's appearance on the Inappropriate Earl podcast. Meanwhile, his family posted on Piper's Facebook page that "Our family is saddened by the sudden passing of our father and beloved husband, Roderick Toombs aka Rowdy Roddy Piper. Please respect our family's privacy during this difficult period."

RIP, sir, and may you no longer need those sunglasses to see clearly wherever you are headed now.