Gene Okerlund Dies; Iconic WWE Announcer Was 76
We have our first major celebrity death of 2019.
According to the WWE, beloved announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund is no longer with us.
The legendary brodcaster, who conducted some of the best-known interviews in company history with such stalwarts as Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage, was 76 years old.
In its statement, the WWE did not say exactly when or how Okerlund passed away, simply writing as a tribute:
“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76.”
Okerlund was given his nickname by the former Minnesota Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura, who was also an announcer with the organization before getting into politics.
He got his start at Omaha radio station KOIL before moving to Minneapolis, where he worked for a local TV station and eventually found work with the WWE in 1983.
Okerlund actually performed the National Anthem at the first WrestleMania in 1985 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
His last appeared on Monday Night Raw took place in January of 2018, during which time he interviewed AJ Styles.
As news of Okerlund’s death spread around the Internet, numerous stars (past and present) sent along their tributes and best wishes.
A few notable examples:
A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments. “Mean Gene” was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.
Mean Gene I love you my brother.
So sad to hear of the passing of one of the greatest voices in wrestling. Mean Gene you will be missed and we will continue to love you. What a true class act. I am very fortunate to work with you.
The Iron Sheik:
RIP MY BROTHER GENE MEAN. YOU PUT ME OVER LIKE NOBODY. I LOVE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY SINCE THE MINNESOTA. GIVE MY BROTHER NIKOLAI BUG HUG. GOD BLESS YOU. CAMERA MAN ZOOM IT.
I MAKE THE GENE MEAN LAUGH SO HARD HERE HE TELL ME I MAKE HIM CRY. HE HELP ME WHEN I DONT REMEMBER THE JABRONIS NAMES I WRESTLE. I LOVE YOU BROTHER.
The voice of my youth. Condolences to his friends and family.
Extremely sad news to hear of the unfortunate passing of Mean Gene Okerlund. One of the most iconic interviewers and personalities of my childhood, and one of the very best in the business.
Again, the cause of death is unknown at this time, Okerlund had two kidney transplants in the past; one in 1995 and the other in 2004.
We send our condolences to his friends, family members and loved ones.
May Gene Okerlund rest in peace.