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William Moody, the real-life undertaker who became famous by portraying Paul Bearer, a mortician who managed some of pro wrestling's biggest stars, died Tuesday at 58 in a Mobile, Ala., hospital.
The hospital did not release a cause of death. TMZ.com reported that Moody told friends in the days before his death he was suffering from a blood clot.
Moody hit the peak of his career when he joined the WWE in 1991, took the name Paul Bearer and became The Undertaker's manager. Bearer's face was painted a pasty white and he would carry an urn with him to ringside.
He was known for a demonic laugh and the catch phrase, "Oh, yes!" He hosted a show on WWE broadcasts known as "The Funeral Parlor."
Moody got into the wrestling business in the late 1970s, first competing on smaller shows around the country while serving in the Air Force.
His first major success, though, came when he was joined Florida Championship Wrestling in 1984 under the name Percival "Percy" Pringle III. He had worked under the Pringle name for several years previously, but didn't get over as a star until joining FCW.
Moody's greatest notoriety came after joining the WWE. He told of a 1990 meeting with WWE owner Vince McMahon and executives Pat Patterson and J.J. Dillon in which the Paul Bearer character was first conceived.
"Vince is laughing like, 'Ho ho ho ho!' You know, that trademark Vince McMahon laugh," Moody explained. "So that moment there when we all realized that they were looking for a manager for Taker and that I was a real mortician. … It was a moment in time that I will never forget and I will take to my grave with me."
Moody's wife, Diana, predeceased him in 2009. He is survived by sons Michael and Daniel.
The Paul Bearer my good friend forever he best gimmick for the manager. Respect to him forever and his family god bless them rest in peace
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) 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
So sad.We lost a great person and a wonderful man today.Rest in peace paul bearer. God bless his family and Godspeed.
— Michael Cole (@MichaelCole) March 6, 2013
R.I.P. Paul Bearer. Was always a blast tagging with you in Dallas. I'll always remember that distinctive laugh and "Oh Lord..." Take care. — Steve Austin (@steveaustinBSR) March 6, 2013
Rest in peace, Paul Bearer. You will never be forgotten. There will never be another.
— Triple H (@TripleH) March 6, 2013
Very sad! God be with william moody's family! God protect the moody family, please. Prayers sent. So sad — GOLDUST (@DUSTIN_RHODES1) March 6, 2013
Just informed via wwe.com Paul Bearer aka Percy Pringle passed away earlier today. I have no other details. RIP old friend.
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) March 6, 2013
Sad to hear of the passing of Bill Moody (Paul Bearer)... Not a nicer man in the biz. RIP bro — Diamond Dallas Page (@RealDDP) 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
Very sorry to hear of the passing of Percy Pringle. I liked Percy very much and will be thinking of him today. twitter.com/UltimateWarrio…
— The Ultimate Warrior (@UltimateWarrior) March 6, 2013
Saddened to hear of my pal Paul Bearer passing away. I was informed a few moments after he silently went. A great fellow has gone — Honky Tonk Man (@OfficialHTM) 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
R.I.P my friend,you will never be replaced.Not to late to add to the HOF
— Kevin Nash (@RealKevinNash) March 6, 2013