WWE Wrestler Dusty Rhodes Dies at Age 69

Getty Images

Legendary World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes passed away early Thursday morning.

The WWE Hall of Famer, whose real name was Virgil Runnels, died at the age of 69 on Thursday, reportedly as a result of kidney failure.

"Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit," the WWE said in a statement. "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."

The organization also remembers Runnels as "one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in sports entertainment history."

The three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion began his career in the late 1960s and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. A fan favorite, his persona was one of an American man and was often billed as the “son of a plumber.”

PHOTOS: Stars We Lost In Recent Years

Shortly after the news, fellow WWE wrestler Triple H took to Twitter to convey his sadness. "Saddened to hear the passing of Dusty Rhodes. Legend, teacher, mentor, friend...Love you Dream," he wrote.

Runnels leaves behind his wife Michelle, four children, a granddaughter and two grandsons.