Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports
May 21, 2011
"Macho Man" Randy Savage, the flamboyant, raspy-voiced former professional wrestler known for his bandanas, exotic sunglasses and "Ooh, yeah!" catchphrase, died Friday in a Florida car crash. He was 58.
Savage, whose legal name was Randy Mario Poffo, lost control of his Jeep Wrangler in Pinellas County on Florida's Gulf Coast around 9:25 a.m. Friday, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.
The Jeep veered, went over a concrete median divider, crossed eastbound lanes and smashed into a tree, the report said.
Savage may have suffered a "medical event" before the accident, but the report did not elaborate, authorities said.
The report identified a female passenger who suffered minor injuries as Barbara L. Poffo. A statement from Stamford, Conn.-based World Wrestling Entertainment said the passenger was Savage's wife.
The charismatic Savage was a champion in Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation and later in Ted Turner's now-defunct World Championship Wrestling. He was known for his rivalries with Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair — and for his flying elbow drop off the top rope.
With his multi-colored cowboy hats, oversized sunglasses and sequined robes bejeweled with "Macho Man" on the back, Savage defined the larger-than-life personalities of the 1980s World Wrestling Federation (now WWE).
"Do I like bright colors? Ooh, yeah!" Savage told the Canadian newspaper the Hamilton Spectator in 1993. "Elton John can't dent my closet."
For much of his career, his valet, Miss Elizabeth, was by his side. Elizabeth Hulette was also then his wife. They later divorced, and Hulette died at 42 in 2003 in what was ruled a prescription-drug overdose.
Savage, who appeared in TV commercials for Slim Jim snacks and made occasional guest appearances on TV shows, also played Bone Saw McGraw in the 2002 hit movie "Spider-Man."
"My character is basically the 'Macho Man' with hair extensions," he told the Bradenton Herald in 2002. "Let's face it, the part was written for me. Bone Saw is a cocky, colorful professional wrestler who likes to surround himself with attractive ladies."
Savage had not made appearances for a major wrestling organization since 2004.
Members of the wrestling community responded to Savage's death via Twitter on Friday.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson said Savage was one of his childhood inspirations and heroes. And Mick "Cactus Jack" Folley called him "one of my favorite performers."
Hogan said he and Savage had just started speaking again after 10 years.
"He had so much life in his eyes & in his spirit, I just pray that he's happy and in a better place and we miss him," Hogan wrote.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1952, Savage grew up in Chicago and was a gifted three-sport athlete in high school. He spent time in baseball's minor leagues before launching his wrestling career.
His father, Angelo Poffo, was a longtime pro wrestler, and his brother, "Leaping" Lanny Poffo, also was a 1980s WWF mainstay.
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