Rhodes was born October 12, 1945 in Austin.
According to the Associated Press, Runnels, 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.
Rhodes was known for is "Figure 4 Leglock" and "Bionic Elbow"
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.
The WWE released the following official statement on Thursday:
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.
RIP Dusty Rhodes. One of the best ever in so many ways.— Kane (@KaneWWE) June 11, 2015
'Dream' helped me find my voice in wrestling and it's been my biggest asset ever since. My thoughts go out to his family. #RIPDustyRhodes— King Barrett (@WadeBarrett) June 11, 2015
It's hard to say "GOOD BYE". I love you Dusty!— Vickie Guerrero (@VickieGuerrero) June 11, 2015
I was so honored to write Dusty Rhodes' theme song "common man" - the American Dream and Dusty will live on forever - love ya Dream— Real Jimmy Hart (@RealJimmyHart) June 11, 2015
"I've wined and dined with kings and queens... And I've slept in alleys and ate pork and beans!" ?? pic.twitter.com/VKnSXU2Qpl— Charlotte (@MsCharlotteWWE) 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.— Zack Ryder (@ZackRyder) June 11, 2015
I am absolutely devastated to hear about the passing of my long time friend Dusty Rhodes. One of the best ever. GO pic.twitter.com/e0BolBDNZj— Gene Okerlund (@TheGeneOkerlund) June 11, 2015
Extremely heavy heart over the loss of an absolute legend and one of the best talkers in the business. @WWEDustyRhodes— nodaysoff D-Young (@DarrenYoungWWE) June 11, 2015
There are no words that can express the sadness in our hearts. RIP Dusty Rhodes…You will be missed, Dream…We love you pic.twitter.com/45dPxrS3JB— Kevin Owens (@FightOwensFight) June 11, 2015
Extremely saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Dusty Rhodes today. There will never,ever be another one like The Dream!! RIP...— Howard Finkel (@howardfinkel) June 11, 2015
WWE is deeply saddened that Virgil Runnels, aka "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, passed away today at age 69. pic.twitter.com/MDfxIAbxwN— WWE (@WWE) June 11, 2015