Pro Wrestling Star and Icon Leon White, best know as Vader, has passed away at the age of 63. Vader is perhaps best known for his time in WCW, the then WWF, and multiple Japanese wrestling promotions as well as his appearances on hit TGIF family sitcom “Boy Meets World.” Leon White died Monday June 18 from heart failure while recovering fro ma bad case of pneumonia, he was only 63. According to WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, Leon had contacted him around just under two years ago to inform him “that he had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and had been given two years to live.” Leon passed just shy of the two year mark and today was remembered by the wrestling community. The man is certainly a future Hall of Famer and it’s saddening that he didn’t live to see that day given his legendary status in the wrestling world.
While many remember Andre the Giant for his size, most remember Vader as the biggest, most threatening, most agile, and imposing big man in professional wrestling history. Many remember his threatening and booming voice or his hard hide shots to the side of the head. Many will remember his moonsault from the top rope or the dreaded Vader bomb. Hell, maybe you even remember him as the guy who caused Mick Foley to lose an ear in Germany! Though I will always remember him for all of those personally I remember him for something I mentioned earlier, his appearances on “Boy Meets World.” Leon played a version of himself named Frankie Stecchino Sr. who wrestled as Vader for the WWF as a heel. Leon made a few appearances as the father of Cory and Shawn’s former bully turned friend Frankie Jr, played by Ethan Suplee. Taking on a fictional look at himself he played a tough father who looked after his two boy while living in the same trailer park as Shawn Hunter, though he didn’t understand his son Frankie’s love of poetry and finer things and not wanting to be associated with violence anymore while still wanting a closer relationship with his father.
The episode “The Thrilla in Philla” sees Cory and Shawn comically go back and forth between a WWF Live Event to give Frankie Jr advice to give to his father to battle Jake “The Snake” Roberts for a number one contenders shot at Shawn Michaels title and back to Topanga’s sweet sixteen. The episode also features Brother Love Bruce Prichard as the play by play man over a loud speaker for some reason and ends with Cory and Shawn being busted by Topanga while she waits at her party venue for some reason watching a replay of the WWF event. I don’t know, Boy Meets World episodes made as much sense as WWF/WWE storylines sometimes. Vaders acting and comic chops was enough to endure him to me and even today they remain some of my favorite episodes. In fact, a picture from that episode has been my laptop background for years now and is the one I shared above.
Who’s the man? You’re the man, Vader.
It will ALWAYS be Vader Time.
Rest in Peace Leon.