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  October 6, 1997



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Harts remember Pillman
By BILL KAUFMANN -- Calgary Sun
 Former Calgary Stampeder Brian Pillman, 35, who launched his World Wrestling Federation career in the city, was found dead yesterday in a Bloomington, Minn. hotel room.

Stunned members of the extended Hart wrestling family gathered yesterday to mourn the death of Pillman, who they considered a member of their close-knit clan.

"He was the only non-relative to belong to the Hart Foundation because he was just so close to the family," said family matriarch Helen Hart. "We're shocked ... we all feel very badly."

The wrestler, who went by the name Flyin' Brian, failed to arrive to compete at a WWF event in St. Louis, Mo., yesterday, said close friend Bruce Hart.

Police found his body in the hotel room.

Authorities weren't sure last night what killed the grappler, who played for the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals in 1984.

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

The Ohio native was a starting linebacker for the Stampeders in the 1986 season when he met Hart, who trained the young athlete in the art of professional wrestling.

The two soon formed a tag team dubbed Bad Company, recalled a saddened Hart.

"He had a real affinity for wrestling, was a real good athlete and had a lot of charisma," said Hart. "There are so many phonies and superficial people in wrestling, but he was deep, intelligent and sensitive."

Hart said Pillman lived a difficult life. As a teen, he beat throat cancer that gave him an artificial larynx and his raspy voice.

In 1995, his wife committed suicide and a year later, Pillman was involved in a car accident that shattered an ankle and forced him to perform in pain.

Pillman seemed despondent on a trip to Calgary last July, said Hart.

"He seemed depressed and maybe had a lot on his mind," said Hart. "I was concerned he was taking too many painkillers."

On Friday, Hart missed a telephone call from Pillman, who instead spoke to his wife, Andrea.

"He talked about my kids and he just wanted to talk about nothing in particular," said Hart.

"It's too bad I missed him -- I was going to call him back (today)."

More on Brian Pillman




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