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Wrestler Johnny Valiant, 71, who appeared in 'Sopranos,' dead after being hit by truck Featured

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Wrestler Johnny Valiant, 71, who appeared in 'Sopranos,' dead after being hit by truck

Professional wrestling star "Luscious" Johnny Valiant has died after being hit by a truck while crossing the street in a suburb of Pittsburgh, reports the Associated Press, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WPXI. 

Valiant, 71, a WWE Hall of Famer whose real name was Thomas Sullivan, is known for being one half of wrestling duo the Valiant Brothers. He also appeared in "The Sopranos" as a bodyguard for New York mafia boss Carmine Lupertazzi.

Reports say Sullivan was hit while crossing McKnight Road near Siebert Road in Ross Township, Pennsylvania early Wednesday morning and pronounced dead at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. Police, who suspected no foul play, said Sullivan had not been at a crosswalk and that the driver of the truck remained on the scene. 

Sullivan, who said he got his start in wrestling after approaching wrestling great Bruno Sammartino, grew up in North Hills, Pennsylvania. The WWE Hall of Famer, inducted in 1996, also managed Hulk Hogan in the 1980s.

After Sullivan met wrestler James Fanning, whose name in the ring was Jimmy Valiant, Fanning introduced him to the World Wrestling Association, and the two became the Valiant Brothers, later managed by Captain Lou Albano.

Sullivan and Fanning started wrestling for the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1969. The bleach-blond Valiant Brothers -- "Handsome" Jimmy and "Luscious" Johnny -- won the world tag team championships in 1974, and Johnny again won the world tag team championships in 1979 with wrestler John Hill, who performed as third Valiant brother "Gentleman" Jerry Valiant. 

After his retirement from the ring, Sullivan managed Hogan as well as Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake, known as the Dream Team, along with Dino Bravo and Demolition.

Later in his career, Sullivan performed as an actor and comedian with a one-man show, "An Evening with Johnny Valiant," during which he recalled sharing a hotel room with the 7-foot-4-inch wrestler Andre the Giant, who he said walked around naked.

In addition to his role on "The Sopranos," where he worked with actor Tony Lip, who lived in Paramus, the veteran wrestler also appeared on "Law & Order" and in the 2008 Mickey Rourke movie "The Wrestler," directed by Darren Aronofsky. He played "The Legend Johnny Valiant." The movie was filmed in various New Jersey locations, including Asbury Park, Dover, Elizabeth, Hasbrouck Heights, Carlstadt and Roselle Park. 

A statement from WWE offered condolences to "Valiant's family, friends and fans."


Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at  Αυτή η διεύθυνση ηλεκτρονικού ταχυδρομείου προστατεύεται από τους αυτοματισμούς αποστολέων ανεπιθύμητων μηνυμάτων. Χρειάζεται να ενεργοποιήσετε τη JavaScript για να μπορέσετε να τη δείτε. . Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.



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