Days before her death, wrestling star and actress Chyna posted a rambling YouTube video
The wrestling star and actress known as Chyna was found dead Wednesday in her Redondo Beach home, three days after posting a rambling and sometimes incoherent video on YouTube.
In the 13-minute video posted to her YouTube channel on Sunday, a groggy Chyna, whose real name was Joan Marie Laurer, walks around a beach-side residence talking to herself. She wears headphones and feathers in her hair and speaks in slurred language as she makes herself a smoothie and talks about the vitamins she’s taking.
“So passive aggressive,” Chyna says after looking through the refrigerator. “I’m like just rude lately. But doing good. I’m having fun because I feel like I can express myself.”
Redondo Beach police said officers found Chyna, 46, in her apartment on Wednesday afternoon, dead on her bed, after receiving a call from her friend about a woman not breathing. The friend said Chyna had not answered her phone in a few days, the police department said in a statement.
Ed Winter, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, said police initially reported the death as a “possible overdose or natural death.” An autopsy is pending.
The cause and time of Chyna’s death are under investigation by the coroner’s department. There were no signs of foul play, police said.
“From the preliminary investigation, it appears that the deceased passed away prior to being discovered by the friend,” Redondo Beach police said in a statement.
Chyna was a star in World Wrestling Entertainment beginning in the mid-1990s. She billed herself as the “9th Wonder of the World” because her wrestling predecessor Andre the Giant had already called himself the eighth.
She was a member of a wrestling squad that called itself “D-Generation X.” She often wrestled against men and at one point was the WWE women’s champion.
Chyna also acted, in both adult entertainment and mainstream films. In 2008, she appeared on VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” where she discussed her alcohol and substance abuse and the trouble she had admitting that she was an addict.
In recent months, Chyna posted numerous short videos to her YouTube page. On camera, she told viewers about her day, filmed a sunset by the ocean, visited her father’s grave and signed an autograph for a young fan.
The video posted on Sunday, titled “Wake up!” was her longest video. On screen, she took what she said was a B12 vitamin, which she said was important because she was a vegan.
“Sounds like a rock band, right?” she said. “Like, swallow the pill. That’d be pretty [expletive] cool.”
Chyna filmed herself making a smoothie and drinking it in its entirety from the blender in one long drink.
“Yum, yum, drink it up!” she said before taking a drink. She then started singing a stumbling version of “Fish Heads,” a song by the comedy rock duo Barnes & Barnes that was often featured on “The Dr. Demento Show.”
“Roly poly fish fish heads fish heads,” Chyna sang. “Roly poly fish heads, eat them up, eat them up, eat them up, yum.”
“Breakfast of champions!” she declared, with green smoothie residue on her face. She had tried to go the store on Saturday but “didn’t quite make it there.”
She turned the camera to the ocean out the window, saying, “How lucky am I?”
Chyna also took to Instagram on Sunday. Her last photo posted showed her blue and red socks with flowers on them, writing, “I have a confession! I love my feet and obsessed with socks leg warmers beautiful paintings on them! Lol!”
That day, she also posted a smiling selfie that appears to be in her bedroom.
“Happy Sunday my lovelies I hope you all enjoy your day with your family,” she wrote. “Be Happy, Love each other, and Live in Peace!”
For a time, Chyna was a big name in popular culture. “If They Only Knew,” her autobiography, reached the New York Times bestseller list in 2001.
She was a native of Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from the University of Tampa in Florida before taking up wrestling.
Chyna joins a long list of WWE professional wrestlers who have died relatively young, including Rick Rude, Curt “Mr. Perfect” Henning, the Ultimate Warrior and Owen Hart.
After leaving the WWE in 2001, Chyna posed for Playboy and appeared in adult films and on reality TV, including the show “The Surreal Life.”
The WWE in a statement called her a “physically striking and talented performer” and a “sports-entertainment pioneer.” She was the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble Match and the first and only woman to win the Intercontinental Championship, the organization said.
The wrestling world expressed shock and sadness over her death.
“She was a truly a pioneer in our industry, and she will be missed,” WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon tweeted.
Hulk Hogan tweeted that he was “devastated over Chyna’s passing.”
“Such a beautiful soul and so kind to my children,” he said.
WWE wrestler Mick Foley posted a photo of himself with Chyna on Twitter, saying, “I wish I could hear Joanie laugh again. She had the most beautiful, dorky, fully committed laugh.”
“Joanie, I’m so sorry,” he wrote in another tweet. “I will always treasure our friendship and will never forget your kindness to my children. RIP.”
On Thursday, Kimberly Shrednick, who taught Chyna at the Hot Yoga Center near the wrestler’s home, called her death “just a shame.”
Chyna had attended hot yoga classes at the studio since August, and the two women would do personal training sessions on the beach, Shrednick said. The yoga teacher immediately knew who she was, having watched Chyna’s wrestling when she was a kid.
“She was an amazing person,” Shrednick said. “She was super sweet, super friendly. Everybody in here loved her.”
Chyna initially came to the studio several times a week but started coming less frequently in recent weeks as she traveled and did more promotions and appearances, Shrednick said. Shrednick last saw her in a class last Monday.
“She was OK,” Shrednick said. “She was a little bit off. Something not right about her, but nothing I could put my finger on, nothing she would tell me.”
Shrednick said that aside from physical fitness, Chyna was “super passionate” about playing the cello.
Outside Chyna’s Esplanade Street residence on Thursday, Robert Hawkinson, 50, rode his bike by the apartment building, trying to see where she lived. Hawkinson had followed her career, watching her wrestle with WWE. The news of her death, he said, didn’t surprise him.
“You heard stories about her having issues,” he said, adding that “she didn’t know how to make herself happy.”
Joyce Sun Marsh, who said she used to work for a graphic design company that designed the packages for Chyna’s dolls years ago, called the wrestler’s death “really sad.”
“Back in the day, she was a huge wrestling star, back when the Rock was still the Rock,” Marsh said while walking along Esplanade with a friend. “Chyna was a big deal way back when.”
Times staff writer Ruben Vives contributed to this report.
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