One of the most fun pro wrestlers to watch – well, for me, anyway – was George “The Animal” Steele. George was a Michigan-born boy, hatched in Detroit on April 16, 1937 and raised in Madison Heights.

He was fun to watch in the ring, but his interviews were more enjoyable. Reporters and/or ringside announcers would snag an interview either before or after a bout with Steele, but their questions were usually met with grunts, growls, one-word answers that made no sense, babble, and strange confused looks into the camera. You know… stuff!

His real name was William James Myers and he wrestled professionally from 1967-1988. Contrary to what some believed, Myers was very intelligent. He had been a teacher, and a high school star in baseball, basketball, football, and track. He attended MSU in 1956 and played football for the Spartans. While at MSU he received a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s from Central Michigan University.

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But the money he was making just wasn’t enough. He entered the world of wrestling in Detroit, put on a mask, and began his career calling himself “The Student.” Eventually he was coaxed to wrestle without the mask, but he didn’t want his real name known; so he borrowed the name ‘George Steele’ from a rival high school coach.

Adopting the nickname “The Animal”, George would use his teeth to rip up the turnbuckle; he also chewed a lot of green Clorets to make his tongue green, which he frequently stuck out at the audience.

More people became aware of George when he appeared in the 1994 Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film “Ed Wood” as wrestler/actor Tor Johnson. The following year, 1995, George was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

It was a good life – then on February 16, 2017, he passed away from kidney failure at 79 years old.

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