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1990s WWE star Chyna dies at 46 in California

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- Chyna, the WWE star who in the 1990s became one of the best-known and most popular female professional wrestlers in history, has died, authorities said.

Police in Southern California said they were responding to a 911 call from a friend of Chyna when they found the former wrestler, whose real name was Joan Marie Laurer, dead in her Redondo Beach apartment.

A friend had gone Wednesday to check on Laurer after she had failed to answer her phone for a few days, Redondo Beach police said in a statement. The friend told the 911 operator that Laurer wasn't breathing.

Laurer was dead when officers arrived, police said. She was 46, according to police.

Neither police nor coroner's officials have released any cause of death, but investigators said there were no indications of foul play.A coroner's official says police initially reported the death as a "possible overdose," and an autopsy is planned in the next few days.It could be weeks before the results of toxicology tests are known.

The tall, muscle-bound, raven-haired Laurer billed herself as the "9th Wonder of the World" because her wrestling predecessor Andre the Giant had already called himself the eighth. She was a member of the wrestling squad D-Generation X, often wrestled against men and at one point was the WWE women's champion.

On her official website a statement posted Wednesday night reads, "Today we lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th Wonder of the World has passed away. She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her."

WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon and executive vice president/wrestler Triple H expressed their sympathies in tweets Thursday.

Laurer was a native of Rochester, New York, and graduated from the University of Tampa in Florida before taking up wrestling.

After leaving WWE in 2001, Laurer was determined to stay active in the entertainment industry. She wrote an autobiography, became a semi-regular on Howard Stern's radio show and appeared in TV sitcoms like "3rd Rock From the Sun" and reality shows including "The Surreal Life." She posed for Playboy and appeared in adult films.

Laurer later came clean about her struggles with drugs on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew."

She joins a long list of WWE professional wrestlers who have died relatively young, including Rick Rude, Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig, the Ultimate Warrior and Owen Hart.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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