Movie Reviews

The Iron Claw: What Happened To Jack Von Erich Jr. In Real Life


  • Jack Jr.’s death in 1959 marked the first tragic event in the Von Erich family.
  • The young boy’s death plays a significant role in The Iron Claw.
  • The Iron Claw maintains the reality of the Von Erich family’s hardships and deaths despite some creative liberties.



The Iron Claw tells the true story of the Von Erich family — a family of wrestlers who endured numerous hardships over decades as many tried to prove themselves in the wrestling world, starting with the misfortunate incident involving Fritz Von Erich and Doris Adkisson’s first son, Jack Jr. The 2023 biographical sports drama, directed and written by Sean Durkin, takes some creative liberties when depicting the family’s story on the big screen. Consequently, not everything that transpires in the movie actually happened in real life, or The Iron Claw changes the details of the true story, resulting in a few inaccuracies.

The Iron Claw
is available to stream on Max.

Although the film alters some true events, The Iron Claw features the deaths of several Von Erich family members and doesn’t change much about the circumstances surrounding the tragedies. Of course, some details are different (e.g. David sending Kevin a postcard, who finds Kerry after he dies, etc.) for dramatic purposes. However, The Iron Claw primarily sticks to reality regarding the Von Erich family’s first death in 1959.

Jack Jr. Was Electrocuted & Died In 1959

Jack Jr. Was Fritz & Doris’ First Son

Following Fritz and Doris’ wedding in 1950, Doris gave birth to their first son, Jack Jr., on September 21, 1952. The couple had two more sons, Kevin and David, in 1957 and 1958, respectively, before the family’s first death befell them. On March 7, 1959, Jack Jr., who was six at the time, stepped on a trailer tongue and was electrocuted, causing the young boy to fall into a puddle of melting snow and drown. Jack Jr.’s death significantly affected the family, and as mentioned in the movie The Iron Claw, was attributed to the “Von Erich curse.”

The Iron Claw Cast


Zac Efron

Kevin Von Erich

Jeremy Allen White

Kerry Von Erich

Harris Dickinson

David Von Erich

Maura Tierney

Doris Von Erich

Stanley Simons

Mike Von Erich

Holt McCallany

Fritz Von Erich

Michael J. Harney

Bill Mercer

Lily James

Pam Adkisson

Maxwell Friedman

Lance Von Erich

Aaron Dean Eisenberg

Ric Flair


How Kerry Von Erich Lost His Leg In The Iron Claw

The success and struggles of Kerry Von Erich played a significant part in The Iron Claw with one incident leaving a severe impact on his life.

The Importance Of Jack Jr. In The Iron Claw

The Boy’s Death Was The First Of Many In The Von Erich Family

Jack Jr.’s death was the first of many deaths in the Von Erich family and seemingly began the curse, which is why he plays an important role in The Iron Claw. The 2023 drama doesn’t expand on the details of Jack Jr.’s death and the boy only briefly appears (when Kerry reunites with all his brothers who passed before him in the afterlife), but his significance in its story is not to be overlooked. Although his younger brothers never got to know him, Jack Jr. greatly affects them and shapes the way they interpret the family’s curse in the movie.

Even though Jack Jr.’s death isn’t depicted in
The Iron Claw,
the tragedy is felt throughout the film as more of Kevin’s brothers die, leaving him as the only living Von Erich son by its end.

Following Jack Jr.’s death, Kevin becomes the oldest of the Von Erich sons, but in the film, Zac Efron’s character tries to reject the burden he feels by being the eldest. At one point, Kevin even says, “I’m not the oldest.” So, even though Jack Jr.’s death isn’t depicted in The Iron Claw, the tragedy is felt throughout the film as more of Kevin’s brothers die, leaving him as the only living Von Erich son by its end.

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