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Chyna Dead: Former WWE Wrestler And Porn Star Joan Laurer Dies Aged 46

21/04/2016 08:54 | Updated 21 April 2016

Chyna, the WWE star who during the 1990s became one of the best-known and most-popular female professional wrestlers in history, has died.

Police in Southern California found the former wrestler's body at her Redondo Beach apartment after responding to a 911 call from one of her friends. 

On Wednesday the friend had gone to check on Chyna, whose real name was Joan Marie Laurer, after she had failed to answer her phone for a few days. The friend told the 911 operator she was not breathing.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Chyna - real name Joan Marie Laurer - was found dead on Wednesday at her Redondo Beach apartment

The 46-year-old was dead when officers arrived, police said. Neither police nor coroner's officials have released any cause of death, though TMZ reports officials are investigating a possible overdose. It cites an anonymous source claiming prescription bottles were found in Chyna's home but there no illegal drugs present. 

A coroner's investigator was still at the location with Chyna's body late on Wednesday night, according to Los Angeles County coroner's Lt Larry Dietz. He said he had no further information on the death.

The tall, muscle-bound, raven-haired Chyna billed herself as the "9th Wonder of the World" because her wrestling predecessor Andre the Giant had already called himself the eighth. 

She quickly became one of WWE’s biggest stars, competing against — and defeating — several top male wrestlers, including Triple H and Chris Jericho.

She was a member of the wrestling squad that dubbed itself "D-Generation X" and at one point was the WWE women's champion.

According to Bleacher Report, Chyna was the first and only woman to win the Intercontinental Championship, snagging the belt in 1999 and again in 2000. Chyna was also the first woman to participate in WWE’s Royal Rumble and King of the Ring.

Chyna left the WWE in 2001. She claimed she was “abruptly let go“ by WWE management — a decision that had a profound impact on her life. 

“When I was in WWE, I was in such a great place. Professionally, it was one of the best times of my life and I loved my work. When the carpet was pulled from underneath me, I had a lot of years to heal from that. It took me a long time, which I think most people have seen in the public eye. I kept trying, but it was very difficult and I had some really difficult times,” she told the Baltimore Sun in 2011. 

After the WWE, Chyna wrestled with New Japan Pro Wrestling and with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. She also modelled and worked as an actress, appearing in films and guest-starring on TV shows, including “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “The Nick Cannon Show” and “Pacific Blue.” 

After struggling with addiction for years, she appeared on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” in 2008. 

Chyna also gained fame as a pornographic actress, working in a number of X-rated films and posing for Playboy magazine. She told the Sun in 2011 that working in porn was “very empowering” and had helped her “therapeutically.”

Spencer Platt via Getty Images
Chyna posed for Playboy after leaving WWE in 2001 

She joins a long list of WWE professional wrestlers who have died relatively young, including Rick Rude, Curt "Mr Perfect" Hennig, the Ultimate Warrior and Owen Hart.

On her official website a statement posted on Wednesday night read: "Today we lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th Wonder of the World has passed away. She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her."

At the time of her death, Chyna was working on a documentary about her life, entitled: “The Reconstruction of Chyna.” The film, she told Wrestling Inc. last year, was supposed to offer a glimpse into what she’s “been up to for [the past] 15 years.“ 

Laurer was a native of Rochester, New York and graduated from the University of Tampa in Florida before taking up wrestling.

With files from Dominique Mosbergen, Senior Writer, The Huffington Post

Chyna, A Life In Pictures

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2000 file photo, WWF wrestler Chyna arrives for the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Chyna, the WWE star who became one of the best known and most popular female professional wrestlers in history in the late 1990s, has died at age 45. Los Angeles County coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz says Chyna, whose real name is Joan Marie Laurer, was found dead in Redondo Beach on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, File)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    FILE - In this July 14, 1999 file photo, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is adorned with his signature feather boa and glitter sunglasses by professional wrestler Chyna, during a World Wrestling Federation press conference at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Chyna, the WWE star who became one of the best known and most popular female professional wrestlers in history in the late 1990s, has died at age 45. Los Angeles County coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz says Chyna, whose real name is Joan Marie Laurer, was found dead in Redondo Beach on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, File)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Joanie Laurer aka Chyna Doll arrives at the "Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav" in Burbank, Calif. on Sunday, July 22, 2007. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2003 dil photo, Joanie Laurer, former pro wrestler known as Chyna, flexes her bicep as she arrives at the 31st annual American Music Awards, in Los Angeles. Chyna, the WWE star who became one of the best known and most popular female professional wrestlers in history in the late 1990s, has died at age 45. Los Angeles County coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz says Chyna, whose real name is Joan Marie Laurer, was found dead in Redondo Beach on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
  • RTStevens / MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx
    Chyna pictured at the DVD release party for "Backdoor into Chyna" at Rick's Cabaret New York on November 10, 2011 ©RTStevens / MediaPunch/IPX
  • LOUIS LANZANO/AP
    Former professional wrestler and actress Joanie Laurer arrives for the trailer screening of her new movie "Illegal Aliens", Wednesday, March 1, 2006, in New York. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
  • RTNStewart / MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx
    Wrestler JOANIE LAURER (CHYNNA) at the 2002 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. 09DEC2002. Credit RTNStewart / MediaPunch/IPX
  • Frazer Harrison via Getty Images
    HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 19: Actress Joan Marie Laurer attends the Wrap Party for TNT's 'Leverage' And 'The Librarian' on November 19, 2008 at the Cabana Club in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
  • MediaPunch Inc./MediaPunch/IPx
    MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 20: Chyna attends Exxxotica Miami Beach at the Miami Beach Convention Center on May 20, 2012 in Miami Beach, Florida. © mpi04 / Media Punch Inc../IPX
  • RTNStewart / MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx
    Wrestler JOANIE LAURER (CHYNNA) at the 2002 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. 09DEC2002. Credit RTNStewart / MediaPunch/IPX
  • RTNStewart / MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx
    JOANIE LAUER (aka CHYNA) at the 30th Annual People's Choice Awards in Pasadena, CA. January 11, 2004 Credit RTNStewart / MediaPunch/IPX
  • AJM/EMPICS Entertainment
    Chyna, Joanie Laurer attending the One Step Closer Foundation Raising The Stakes Poker Tournament Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Former professional wrestler and actress Joanie Laurer, who wrestled under the name "Chyna", arrives for the trailer screening of her new movie "Illegal Aliens", Wednesday, March 1, 2006, in New York. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
  • John Hayes / Reuters
    Joey Buttafuoco and opponent Joanie Laurer pose for cameras during the weigh-in for Celebrity Boxing 2 in Los Angeles, California, May 14, 2002. Celebrity Boxing 2 will air May 22 on Fox. REUTERS/John Hayes JH
  • Kevin Winter via Getty Images
    HOLLYWOOD - OCTOBER 02: TV personality Joanie 'Chyna' Laurer arrives at the 2007 Fox Reality Channel Really Awards held at Boulevard 3 on October 2, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Fox)
  • Jean Baptiste Lacroix via Getty Images
    Joanie Laurer aka Chyna Doll during Time Warner Cable and MTV Networks Celebrate the Launch of Logo and Logo on Demand at Boulevard3 in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
  • Jeffrey Mayer via Getty Images
    Joanie 'Chyna' Laurer during 5th Annual TV Land Awards - Arrivals at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
  • Gabe Ginsberg via Getty Images
    LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 18: Former professional wrestler Joanie 'Chyna' Laurer attends One Step Closer Foundation's event at the VooDoo Zip Line at the Rio Hotel & Casino as part of the organization's efforts to raise funds and awareness for people with cerebral palsy on June 18, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
  • Michael Tran via Getty Images
    HOLLYWOOD - SEPTEMBER 24: Joanie Laurer arrives at the FOX Reality Channel 'Really Awards' held at Avalon Nightclub on September 24, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
  • NBC via Getty Images
    THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1776 -- Pictured: (l-r) Professional wrestler Chyna (Joanie Laurer) during an interview with host Jay Leno on February 11, 2000 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
  • Todd Williamson Archive via Getty Images
    Joanie Laurer during Katie Lohmann's 2006 Calendar Launch Party at Priviledge in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/FilmMagic)
  • Malcolm Ali via Getty Images
    Joanie Laurer, 'The Chyna Doll' (Photo by Malcolm Ali/WireImage)
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