STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — WWE says Virgil Runnels, a former professional wrestler known by his fans as Dusty Rhodes, has died. He was 69.
The company says Runnels died Thursday, but a spokesman declined to say where or how he passed away, saying the family had not authorized the release of that information.
Runnels, who also went by the nickname “The American Dream,” was a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, and held the NWA championship three times. He became famous during the height of wrestling’s popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, appearing in signature yellow polka dot tights with his sidekick “valet” Sapphire.
He also was the father of two other famous WWE wrestlers: Dustin Runnels, better known as Goldust, and Cody Runnels who wrestles under the name Stardust.
The WWE released the following statement:
WWE is deeply saddened that Virgil Runnels, aka “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes — WWE Hall of Famer, three-time NWA Champion and one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in sports entertainment history — passed away today at the age of 69.
Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit. Moreover, Runnels was a dedicated father to WWE Superstars Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (Cody Runnels), a caring husband and a creative visionary who helped shape the landscape of WWE long after his in-ring career had ended.
WWE extends its sincerest condolences to Runnels’ family, friends and colleagues.