REDONDO BEACH, Calif.—Former professional wrestler Chyna, who made six adult movies between 2004 and 2013, was found dead Wednesday evening in her Redondo Beach apartment, multiple news outlets report. She was 45.
Though the cause of her death is unknown at this point, the wrestling icon, whose legal name was Joanie Laurer, notoriously grappled with addiction for many years, bringing that battle into the public eye by way of reality TV program Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew in 2008.
Before making her adult video debut with 2004's 1 Night in China from Red Light District, Chyna posed nude for Playboy magazine twice, first in November 2000 and again in January 2002 following her departure from what was then known as the WWF.
1 Night in China went on to win the 2006 AVN Award for Best Selling Title of the Year, and six years later, —her first of four movies for Vivid Entertainment—took home the AVN trophy for Best Celebrity Sex Tape.
In her third and fourth Vivid titles, both parodies released under the VividXXXSuperheroes imprint, director Axel Braun cast her pitch-perfectly as She-Hulk, a role that AVN reviewer Carlos Colon called "not only the most apt, but the most freakishly indelible" of her career.
"Chyna was a sweet, gentle, troubled soul who desperately wanted to be loved," Braun told AVN. "I directed her in She-Hulk XXX and The Avengers XXX, and we stayed in touch over the years, as she tried to battle her addiction. I really thought she was doing much better; her untimely death is extremely sad."
Chyna made a number of appearances at adult industry events, including the 2012 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, Vivid's 2012 New Year's Eve Bash, Exxxotica N.J. and Miami, and a presenting spot at the 2012 AVN Awards.
In 2011, the Fleshbot Awards her with a "Mainstream to Porn Crossover Award." At the time, Chyna commented, "I'm really tickled by this award. I started having a great time from the minute Steven Hirsch of Vivid gave me the green light to make my first movie with his studio, it's been non-stop glamorous fun ever since. It's been quite a dramatic change for me to make the transition from being the 'Ninth Wonder of the World' to sexy porn star. But, I knew what I wanted and it turned out to be the absolute right decision for me. I'm loving every minute."
Some of Chyna's other mainstream credits include a reoccurring role on 3rd Rock From the Sun, full seasons of both The Surreal Life and The Surreal Life: Fame Games, and a starring role alongside Anna Nicole Smith in the latter's final movie, sci-fi comedy Illegal Aliens.
Photo of Chyna by Gia Jordan, from 2009 premiere of Michael Grecco's .