Dusty Rhodes, the legendary "American Dream” wrestler who was a three-time National Wrestling Alliance champion, died Thursday at the age of 69.
World Wrestling Entertainment announced the news on its website
. Rhodes, who was born Virgil Runnels, was a WWE Hall of Famer and “one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in sports entertainment history,” the website said.
A legend in an industry rife with characters, Rhodes “famously rocked polka dot tights” during his career, TMZ reported.
The entertainment site said emergency personnel were called to Rhodes’ Orlando, Florida, home early Wednesday morning on a report that he had fallen. He suffered “numerous complications” and died early Thursday, TMZ said.
Ric Flair, one of Rhodes’ biggest rivals in the ring, told TMZ, "Today
I lost one of my greatest opponents and greatest friends. He was the definition of heart and soul and I’m honored to have shared the ring with him countless times. Dusty Rhodes, I will miss you my mentor and friend."
Rhodes’ two sons are WWE Superstars, Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (Cody Runnels).
Many went online to share their sorrow at Rhodes’ passing:
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