IN A 1985 cover story on pro wrestling, Sports Illustrated called Rowdy Roddy Piper, with a degree of awe, "the most contemptible of all wrestling heels." Last week, at 61, Piper—born Roderick Toombs—died of cardiac arrest.

Piper—whose "Piper's Pit" segments on broadcasts ranked with Late Night with David Letterman as the best, most subversive talk shows of the 1980s—was unsurpassed when it came to dispensing tough-guy lines. Among his best: "I do exactly what I want to do. You say I'm insane. I say thank you very much." And from 1988's sci-fi horror flick They Live, "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum."

PHOTOCOURTESY OF WWE (TRIBUTE)