Possible drug overdose in death of wrestler Chyna

FILE- Joanie Laurer, former pro wrestler known as Chyna, flexes her bicep as she arrives at the 31st annual American Music Awards, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
FILE- Joanie Laurer, former pro wrestler known as Chyna, flexes her bicep as she arrives at the 31st annual American Music Awards, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

- Chyna, the WWE star who in the 1990s became one of the best-known and most-popular female professional wrestlers in history, was found dead in her California apartment, authorities said. 

Police in Southern California said they were responding to a 911 call from a friend 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.

Laurer, 46, was dead when officers arrived, police said. 

Neither police nor coroner's officials have released any cause of death. 

TMZ.com reported Thursday that investigators are looking into the possibility Laurer died from a drug overdose due mainly to her history with drugs. Prescription bottles were found in the home, but there were no illegal drugs.

In a video posted to her YouTube page Sunday, Laurer appears disheveled and sometimes slurring her words.

 

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

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.

On her official website a statement posted Wednesday night reads, "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."

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

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.

After leaving the WWE in 2001, Laurer posed for Playboy and appeared in adult films and on reality TV, including the shows "The Surreal Life" and "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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