Pierre Clermont, better known as Pat Patterson of the WWE, passed away yesterday at the age of 79, after a battle with cancer.
Pat Patterson’s influence on the wrestling industry is too extensive to list here. It’s immense and wide-reaching, from being one of the most popular wrestlers during his time as an active performer, to being one of the first openly gay wrestlers, to being the first Intercontinental Champion, to creating the iconic WWE Royal Rumble match. All of this is to say that Patterson’s mark on pro wrestling is indelible.
Patterson’s autobiography Accepted: How The First Gay Superstar Changed WWE is a fascinating read, especially since his jovial nature pops right off the page. It details his childhood as a poor kid in Montreal and his rise to becoming one of the most well-known wrestlers on the west coast As both a singles star and as half of one of the best tag teams in history, the Blond Bombers, with Ray Stevens, Patterson was a massive draw almost anywhere he went. He had successful runs in Oregon, California, Florida, before breaking into the national scene with the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and in the WWF.
After ending his wrestling career around 1988, Patterson became a prominent backstage figure in the WWF, becoming Vince McMahon’s most trusted advisor in both booking and talent relations. He was a beloved figure backstage for his work as a mentor and advocate for many wrestlers.
Patterson’s death was felt throughout wrestling, and nothing makes that clearer than the tributes from wrestlers that felt his influence and infectious personality: