Matt Osborne -- who as the original Doink the Clown brought delight and probably more than a little terror to professional wrestling fans everywhere -- has died at age 55.
NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth is reporting that Osborne died in a local hospital after his girlfriend found him unresponsive inside their Plano, Texas, apartment. There was no word on the cause of death, although investigators are saying it appears to be accidental.
On its website, the WWE called Osborne's character "one of the most enduring personas of the early ’90s."
According to his WWE bio, Doink started as a villain, delighting in tricks that made children cry, such as squirting them in the face with water from fake flowers. But he was also a force to be reckoned with in the ring, with his defining moment perhaps coming in Wrestlemania IX, when two Doinks somehow showed up to attack Crush.
But Doink mellowed in his later years, taking pleasure in making children smile and facing off with villains in the ring, with the help of his sidekick Dink.
According to WebProNews, Osbourne started wrestling on the independent circuit back in 1978, then moved on to World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), before joining the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in 1992.
While other people have toured as Doink, Osborne was the first to grease up his face and enter the ring with the circus music blaring. He was fired by the WWE for repeat drug offenses in 1996, WebProNews said, but eventually made his way back onto the independent wrestling circuit.
On his Facebook page the day before his death, Osborne expressed excitement over his busy summer ahead. Fans are now using the comment section on that post to pay honor to the beloved prankster and the man who made him famous.