Virgil Runnels, better known as WWE legend Dusty Rhodes, died on Thursday at the age of 69. The cause of death was not immediately available.
Runnels began his pro wrestling career in the 1970s when he performed in various pro wrestling leagues around the country, but he reached peak fame after taking on the persona of Dusty Rhodes, aka the “American Dream.”
“When I became ‘The American Dream’ they needed a hero down here,” he said. “I had no money. I couldn’t buy a car without being tied under but I had to have a Cadillac with blue stars on the hood no matter what it cost because just driving in it will set how they look at me and perceive this guy, they’ll know.”
By 1989, Rhodes was practically a household name. That’s when he signed with WWE (then known as WWF) and began wearing his famous yellow and black polka-dot ensemble.
Runnels’s larger-than-life presence, zealous promotions and rampant blading, which often left him covered in blood in the ring before WWE decided to rebrand itself as PG, made him a fan favorite and on March 31, 2007, Runnels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his two wrestling sons.
On Thursday, the pro wrestling community took to social media to remember one of the best and express their condolences to Runnels’ friends and family.
RIP Dusty Rhodes. One of the best ever in so many ways.— Kane (@KaneWWE) June 11, 2015
I'll forever be in debt for everything you taught me. Thank you Dream. RIP Dusty Rhodes.— BASTARD (@BASTARDPAC) June 11, 2015
Without you, I wouldn't have a voice. Simply... Thank you Dream!— Mercedes Varnado (@SashaBanksWWE) June 11, 2015
I'm so sad to hear of the passing of The American Dream. RIP Dusty Rhodes. One of the all time greats...in and out of the ring.— Matt Cardona (@TheMattCardona) June 11, 2015
I'm in complete shock hearing about Dusty Rhodes. A hero of mine growing up & a bigger hero after we became friends. Thoughts & prayers RIP— Jay 'Christian' Reso (@Christian4Peeps) June 11, 2015
Very saddened to hear of the passing of Dusty Rhodes. A big supporter of mine from day one and one of the main reasons I made it to WWE.— Stu Bennett (@StuBennett) June 11, 2015