Home > News & Advice > News Obituaries > Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (1944–2017), legendary professional wrestling manager

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (1944–2017), legendary professional wrestling manager

by Kirk Fox

Bobby Heenan was one of the most popular personalities in professional wrestling history.

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, legendary professional wrestling manager and commentator, has died at the age of 73, according to multiple news sources and the WWE. 

It had been reported that Heenan had been battling throat cancer since 2002.


Heenan began his managing career in the WWA and the AWA. He was signed to WWE in 1984. He began his WWE career by managing Hall of Famer Big John Studd

Heenan would go on to become one of the most popular managers in professional wrestling. He called his stable of wrestlers, the Heenan family. Some of the wrestlers he managed included superstars Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, and Mr. Perfect

Get weekly celebrity death news delivered to your inbox.

Heenan’s colorful personality and funny on screen banter led to him becoming a TV color commentator for matches. He is considered one of the most entertaining commentators in wrestling history. Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon were a memorable announcing pair. 

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. 

Many legends of professional wrestling paid tribute to Heenan on social media. 

Ric Flair said, “Bobby Heenan… The Greatest Manager, One of The Greatest Announcers, And One Of The Best In-Ring Performers In The History Of The Business.” 

Vince McMahon: “One of the greatest managers and announcers in WWE history. Our thoughts are with the Heenan family.” 

Triple H said, “…one of a kind.”

The WWE issued the following statement in tribute to Heenan: 

“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Bobby Heenan, regarded by many as the greatest manager in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 73. 

With a career spanning more than four decades, Bobby Heenan was the ‘The Brain’ behind some of the most prolific Superstars in sports-entertainment history. Heenan plied his trade as their mischievous manager by running his mouth on their behalf with a sarcastic wit considered among the best in the business. 

Heenan named competitors under his guidance as the Heenan Family, a moniker meant to show the strength of their alliance over any of their opposition. Members of the Heenan Family in the AWA and WWE read like the who’s who of sports entertainment, including legends and WWE Hall of Famers such as Nick Bockwinkel, the Blackjacks, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude, ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig, the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard), Harley Race, and of course, the first WWE Hall of Famer, Andre the Giant, whom Heenan led to the ring at WrestleMania III before 93,173 fans. 

As impossible as it may seem, Heenan’s overwhelming success as a manager was matched by that of his announcing career. Heenan’s constant verbal jousts with fellow WWE Hall of Famers Gorilla Monsoon and ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund on USA Network remain among the most entertaining moments in sports-entertainment history. In fact, ‘The Brain’ was so entertaining, that ‘The Bobby Heenan Show’ had a brief run on USA Network as well. In addition ‘The Brain’ was part of the original broadcast team for Monday Night RAW in 1993, and is the only person to have sat at the announcers’ table for both RAW and WCW Monday Nitro. WWE extends its condolences to Heenan’s family, friends and fans.​” 

We invite you to share condolences for Bobby “The Brain” Heenan in our Guest Book.

More Stories