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In this July 31, 1988, photo provided by the WWE, 'Mean Gene' Okerlund addresses the crowd before a pro wrestling event in Milwaukee.The Associated Press

Eugene (Mean Gene) Okerlund, whose deadpan interviews of pro wrestling superstars such as Randy (Macho Man) Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan made him a ringside fixture in his own right, has died. He was 76.

World Wrestling Entertainment announced Mr. Okerlund’s death on its website on Wednesday. Mr. Okerlund’s son, Tor Okerlund, said his father died early Wednesday at a hospital in Sarasota, Fla., near his home in Osprey, Fla., with his wife, Jeanne, by his side.

Tor Okerlund said his father, who had received three kidney transplants, fell a few weeks ago “and it just kind of went from bad to worse.”

Mr. Okerlund started as an interviewer in the Minneapolis-based American Wrestling Association. He moved to WWE in 1984 and became the host of several shows, including All-American Wrestling, Tuesday Night Titans and Prime Time Wrestling. Besides being WWE’s lead locker-room interviewer, he also provided ringside commentary.

Former wrestler and ex-Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura gave Mr. Okerlund his “Mean Gene” nickname.

Mr. Ventura told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Wednesday that in an interview he “laughingly called him ‘the Mean Gene Hot Air Machine,’ and the ‘Mean Gene’ stuck.”

Mr. Ventura called Mr. Okerlund “the best at what he did, the best straight man interviewer in wrestling history.”

A native of Sisseton, S.D., Mr. Okerlund was known for his natty attire and mustache. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.

Mr. Okerlund also could sing: He performed the Star-Spangled Banner at the first WrestleMania in 1985, and he sang Tutti Frutti later that year on the WWE’s The Wrestling Album.

“He really was the ultimate, the consummate entertainer,” his son said.

In a 2015 interview with the Star Tribune, Mr. Okerlund credited the late pro wrestling pioneer Verne Gagne for his start.

Mr. Okerlund worked in sales at the television station where Mr. Gagne’s AWA was based and had experience in radio. Mr. Gagne approached Mr. Okerlund in the hallway when the regular interviewer could not make a taping in the early 1970s, Mr. Okerlund recalled.

“I said, ‘Verne, I know zero about wrestling.’ He said, ‘Do you have a suit and tie? That’s all you need.’ There were a few bucks involved, so I dived in,” Mr. Okerlund said.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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