Owen James Hart was born in Calgary, Alberta on May 7th, 1965. He was the youngest of 12 children born to Stu and Helen Hart. His father, Stu Hart, ran the Stampede Wrestling promotion and is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Owen Hart first learned to wrestle as an amateur in high school, and although wrestling was not his first choice for a career, his attempts to earn a living outside of wrestling were unsuccessful. In 1986, Hart made his professional debut for Stampede Wrestling.
After some minor success with Stampede and the New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion, Hart signed with the World Wrestling Federation in 1988. His WWF debut took place at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in August of 1988, where Hart donned a blue mask and wrestled as “the Blue Blazer”. The Blazer was ultimately defeated by Mr. Perfect at Wreslemaina V. Following the loss at Wrestlemaina V, Hart left the WWF, returning to Stampede. He toured with Stampede until the promotion went out of business in 1989.
Hart returned to WWF in 1991, and continued to gain in popularity. After an early feud with his brother, Bret Hart, the two decided to form “the Hart Foundation” and wrestle as a team in 1997. Owen Hart won his first WWF Intercontinental Championship in 1997, by pinning Rocky Maivia.
On May 23, 1999 during the Over the Edge pay-per-view event in Kansas City, Missouri. Owen Hart suffered a fall during a planned stunt. Hart was wearing a harness and in the process of being lowered into the ring when the equipment malfunctioned, causing him to plummet almost 80 feet, landing on the top rope. Hart was not very experienced in performing the harness stunt, and had concerns about attempting the stunt at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, due to the height involved. There is some speculation that Owen may have accidentally triggered a quick-release mechanism by moving around within the harness. Hart was transported to Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Owen Hart was 34 years old. The cause of death was ruled to be internal bleeding, due to a severed aorta. In the aftermath of the poorly planned and dangerous stunt, the Hart family sued WWF, eventually winning an $18 million dollar settlement.