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A fan favorite for his wild demeanor in the ring while shredding turnbuckles with his teeth, George “The Animal” Steele has tragically passed away at age 79. WWE has confirmed his passing to FanBuzz.

His agent shared the following on Facebook on Thursday, as he had reportedly been placed in hospice care:

He first came to WWE in 1967, starting a program with Bruno Sammartino and would remain as an employee until 1990.

Crohn’s Disease cut his career short in 1988, but he will always be remembered for his epic rivalry with Randy Savage during the height of his career in WWF and helping Ricky Steamboat overcome the Macho Man at WrestleMania.

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995.

Steele sat down with the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling to discuss his career in April 2015:

Origins of the green tongue:

“I had a couple of drinks at a TV taping and I didn’t want the promoter to know it, so I put some Clorets in my mouth and went on television. Now back in the late 60s – early 70s, color TV had just come out, so here I come out there looking like a clown with a green tongue and I didn’t even know it was green, I was just trying to get rid of the breath and about 3 months later I said I wanted to try the green tongue thing again but just for my own laughs. When I did it again, the place went nuts and the next day had signs all over the place with green tongues hanging out so from then on I had the very best breath in wrestling.”

How the turnbuckle bite originated:

“In Pittsburgh back in 1967, they would give away different gifts to get fans to come to the TV shows and on this one particular time they gave away these small little couch pillows. They had probably given away about 250 of them. One of the ladies in the crowed had gotten mad at me and threw her pillow at me. So I get the pillow in the ring and what am I going to do with it? I can throw it back and then have 250 pillows then coming back at me or I can take a bite out of it. So I take a bite out of it and it tore and popped because it was so packed with the stuffing, it just exploded so I started throwing the stuffing in the air and it was sticking in my hair like an abominable snowman, then I took the pillow wrapped it around my opponent’s head and started choking him. It was Bruno’s (Sammartino) wrestling “cousin” Tony Marino that said maybe you should start tearing the turnbuckles and everybody laughed. Two or three weeks later I go and fight (Chief Jay) Strongbow and even though it’s hard to have a boring match with Strongbow the people just weren’t reacting to this match. I looked at the turnbuckle pad and I went over took a bite out of it and it tore really easy and started rubbing his eyes with that and for a very flat match, we had a riot. So the two things that I am known for the green tongue and the turnbuckles and they both happened by accident.”

Thoughts have already poured in from around the wrestling world:

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

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