Iconic WWE backstage interviewer, ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, died Wednesday at the age of 76. Okerlund was a pivotal role in the WWE Franchise during some of the biggest moments in pro wrestling history.
Tor Okerlund, son of Gene Okerlund, told The Associated Press that his father died early Wednesday at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida, with his wife, Jeanne, by his side.
Tor Okerlund said his father, fell a a few weeks ago “and it just kind of went from bad to worse.”
Okerland was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, by Hulk Hogan, after news of his passing spread the wrestling super star remembered his friend with a post on social media:
Celebrating Mean Gene and our friendship with his favorite Martini,brother RIP my friend HH pic.twitter.com/VWwf3K2AD5
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 2, 2019
The WWE also shared this classic interview with Okerlund and Ric Flair:
— WWE (@WWE) January 2, 2019
Flair also shared this touching tribute to his late friend:
One Of My Closest Friends Since 1972 Until This Very Sad Day In 2019. Not Only The Greatest Voice And Personality In The History Of Announcing, But A Man Who Touched Everyone’s Life Who Were Fortunate Enough To Know Him. Rest In Peace Knowing No One Will Ever Replace You.”
One Of My Closest Friends Since 1972 Until This Very Sad Day In 2019. Not Only The Greatest Voice And Personality In The History Of Announcing, But A Man Who Touched Everyone’s Life Who Were Fortunate Enough To Know Him. Rest In Peace Knowing No One Will Ever Replace You. pic.twitter.com/i7illbxQgw
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) January 2, 2019
Okerlund began his interviewing career at the Minneapolis-based American Wrestling Association before moving to the WWE in 1984, there he hosted “All-American Wrestling” and “Tuesday Night Titans,” although he was most famous for his locker room interviews.
Minnesota Governor Jesse “the body” Ventura told Minneapolis Star Tribune on Wednesday in an interview that he was the one who gave Okerlund his “Mean Gene” nickname, saying he “laughingly called him ‘the Mean Gene Hot Air Machine,’ and the ‘Mean Gene’ stuck.” He continued that ‘Mean Gene’ was “the best at what he did, the best straight man interviewer in wrestling history.”