Variety is reporting that wrestler, reality TV star, and adult film performer Chyna has been found dead in her California home. The former WWF Superstar—born Joan Marie Laurer—was 45. No official cause of death has been named.
Chyna burst onto the wrestling scene in the late ’90s, where her powerful physique and intimidating stature helped establish her as a fixture in the “Attitude Era” of the WWF (now WWE). As one of the most prominent female wrestlers in the company’s stable, she quickly became a national name, earning TV roles in shows like 3rd Rock From The Sun, appearing in Playboy, and often battling against established male wrestlers for the company’s various titles. She departed the company in 2001, at which point she was forced to discontinue using the “Chyna” trademark. However, in 2007, Laurer officially changed her name to Chyna, allowing her to legally use the moniker once again.
After leaving the WWF, Chyna moved into the world of reality TV, leveraging popular appearances on The Howard Stern Show into a long association with VH1’s Surreal Life franchise. In 2004, she also released a sex tape with fellow wrestler Sean Waltman; she would eventually star in five other adult movie over the course of her career, including a role as She-Hulk in a high-profile pornographic parody of The Avengers.
The mid-2000s also saw Laurer’s long-discussed struggles with depression and addiction apparently worsen. She appeared on the 2008 season of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, and allegedly appeared drunk or intoxicated on at least one of her Howard Stern appearances. In 2010, she was briefly hospitalized for an overdose of sleep medicine.
The announcement of Chyna’s death was made on her Facebook page, via the following post: “It is with deep sadness to inform you today that 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.”