A WWE Hall of Fame wrestler who was one of the sports-entertainment organization’s top stars in the 1980s and 1990s has died. The WWE announced on its website that Bobby “The Brain” Heenan died Sunday at age 73.
Heenan had been fighting cancer for years, announcing in 2002 that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer. He underwent numerous surgeries over the years, including reconstructive jaw surgery in 2007, a treatment that required that he be put in a medically induced coma.
In later years, Heenan was treated for tongue cancer.
During his four-decade career, Heenan succeeded as a wrestler, a manager and an announcer.
“Heenan was the ‘The Brain’ behind some of the most prolific Superstars in sports-entertainment history,” the WWE said in a statement. “Heenan plied his trade as their mischievous manager by running his mouth on their behalf with a sarcastic wit considered among the best in the business.
“Heenan named competitors under his guidance as the Heenan Family, a moniker meant to show the strength of their alliance over any opposition. Members of the Heenan Family in the AWA and WWE read like the who’s who of sports-entertainment, including Legends and WWE Hall of Famers such as Nick Bockwinkel, the Blackjacks, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude, ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig, the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard), Harley Race, and of course, the first WWE Hall of Famer, Andre the Giant, whom Heenan led to the ring at WrestleMania III before 93,173 fans.”
Heenan later moved into the announcer’s booth, where he continued to thrive.
“Heenan’s constant verbal jousts with fellow WWE Hall of Famers Gorilla Monsoon and ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund on USA Network remain among the most memorable moments in sports-entertainment history,” the WWE noted. “In fact, ‘The Brain’ was so entertaining that ‘The Bobby Heenan Show’ had a brief run on USA Network as well.”