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George 'The Animal' Steele, WWE Hall of Famer, dies at 79

George "The Animal" Steele, a pro wrestling icon and WWE Hall of Famer, has died at 79. WWE confirmed the news Friday.

Steele turned pro in 1967 and was best known for his run as a comical babyface attraction in the final years before his 1988 retirement. With his hairy upper body, bald head and green tongue, Steele became one of the most recognizable characters for the WWE then known as WWF -- during its national expansion in the mid-1980s, thanks to his penchant for biting open and chewing on the turnbuckle pads.

Steele spent his final years in Cocoa Beach, Florida. He revealed in his 2013 autobiography "Animal" that he suffered near-fatal bouts with Crohn's disease -- which affects the digestive tract
throughout his retirement and had his colon removed in 2002. He began to share publicly about his declining health on his social media accounts, beginning last May.

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