Director/writer Sean Durkin isn’t the only member of the crew of “The Iron Claw” who has expressed sympathy for Chris and Mike Von Erich, both of whom had to endure a lot as sons mired in the Von Erich legacy. Stanley Simons, who plays Mike, told Entertainment Weekly that he felt bad for both Mike and Chris Von Erich. “He and his younger brother Chris were both the younger brothers of these three huge, larger-than-life characters,” Simons explained, adding that both men were pushed into the ring in the wake of David Von Erich’s death by their father, Fritz.
While Mike wanted to make movies and Chris passionately supported the family business, both found themselves wrestling in order to keep World Class Wrestling alive in its waning days. Mike dealt with toxic shock syndrome due to botched shoulder surgery and could not keep up with the demands Fritz Von Erich allegedly kept piling on his shoulders; a subsequent car accident made performing even more difficult. Chris was asthmatic and the least athletic member of the family, his in-ring career hampered by his smaller size, and the fact that the drugs he took to control his asthma left his bones brittle. He never got to do more than wrestle manager Percy Pringle — WWF/WWE’s future Paul Bearer.
Mike died by suicide on April 12, 1987, and Chris on September 12, 1991. While only one of these emotional bodyslams ultimately made it into “The Iron Claw,” you can expect to be deeply moved when the film hits theaters on December 22.
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