Pro Wrestling Icon William "Paul Bearer" Moody Dead at 58

William "Bill" Moody, best known to fans of professional wrestling as long-time WWE staple Paul Bearer, passed away yesterday in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He was 58.

Though his cause of death has not been released, Moody was known to have a slew of health problems associated with morbid obesity, for which he underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2003.

The WWE broke the news of Moody's passing with a brief statement posted on its website:

WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of William Moody, aka Paul Bearer. Moody made his WWE debut in 1991 as the manager of The Undertaker and went on to become a memorable part of WWE over the course of the next 20 years.

Our deepest condolences go out to Moody's family, friends and fans.

Moody's life-long love affair with wrestling began at a very early age.

"I remember that my Mom and Dad would take me to the local 'Wrestling Live On Channel 5' studio television tapings," Moody wrote in the bio section of his homepage. "Needless to say, it was love at first sight."

What began ringside eventually transitioned into a short stint as wrestler known alternately as Mr. X, the Embalmer, and the Mortician.

Moody soon made the leap to managing, when he took on the name Percival "Percy" Pringle, III, in 1979, going on to handle the affairs of such wrestling greats as Lex Luger, The Great Kabuki, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, back when he was still known as "Stunning."

Moody was recruited by the WWE — then the WWF — in 1991, and given the persona of Paul Bearer, which would become his legacy.

The ghoulish, morbid mortician who was never without his trademark urn would replace Brother Love as The Undertaker's manager, becoming his most famous minder — and one of the World Wrestling Federation's most memorable characters.

In time, Moody would add other WWF/WWE notables to his stable, including Kane, Vader, and Mankind.

At the time of his death, Moody was still making sporadic appearances at WWE events as an official wrestling legend.

[photo via WWE]