Chyna, the WWE star who became one of the best-known and most popular female professional wrestlers in history, has died at age 45. Police in Southern California say they were responding to a 911 call from a friend of the former wrestler when they found her dead in her Redondo Beach apartment. A friend had gone Wednesday to check on Chyna, whose real name is Joan Marie Laurer, after she had failed to answer her phone for a few days, Redondo Beach police said in a statement. The friend told the 911 operator that Laurer wasn't breathing. Neither police nor coroner's officials have released any cause of death, the AP reports.
The tall, muscle-bound, raven-haired Chyna billed herself as the "Ninth Wonder of the World" because her wrestling predecessor Andre the Giant had already called himself the eighth. Rising to prominence in the late 1990s, she was a member of the wrestling squad that dubbed itself "D-Generation X," often wrestled against men, and at one point was the WWE women's champion. After leaving the WWE in 2001, Chyna posed for Playboy and appeared in adult films and on reality TV, including the shows The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. "Today we lost a true icon, a real life superhero," a statement on her official website said. "She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her." (Ex-WWE star Bret Hart is fighting his toughest battle.)