Dusty Rhodes, one of the most charismatic figures in pro wrestling history, died Thursday at age 69.
WWE announced his death on Thursday but said the family had not authorized the release of how or where it happened.
Born Virgil Runnels, Rhodes achieved his greatest popularity as a wrestler in the 1970s and '80s, when he lived up to his other nickname, "The American Dream." He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 and served as a promo coach for WWE developmental in recent years.
"Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit," WWE publicity manager Joe Villa 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."
Runnels played baseball and football at West Texas State, then spent some time as a semi-pro football player before becoming a professional wrester.
As Rhodes, Runnels was famous for wearing yellow polka dot tights and appearing with his so-called valet, Sapphire. He was a three-time NWA champion.
Pro wrestling stars past and present mourned the passing of the legend on Twitter:
-- Trpile H: "Saddened to hear the passing of Dusty Rhodes. Legend, teacher, mentor, friend... Love you Dream;"
-- Ric Flair: "My mentor @WWEDustyRhodes. Much love to your family and more respect than can ever be measured. Love you Dream;"
-- Steve Austin: "One of my all time heroes and one the all time greats has passed away. American Dream #DustyRhodes I will never forget you. #Legend;"
--Zack Ryder: "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;"
-- Dana Brooke: "A man who believed in me since day 1, a father, a legend, a friend, a hero & now an [angel] above!Deepest sympathy @WWE;"
-- Greg Hamilton: "140 characters are simply not enough. Dream, thank you for all that you taught me about life in the short time I knew you. #RIPDustyRhodes;"
-- John Cena: "#RIPDustyRhodes THE most inspirational symbol in our industry. #SonOfAPlumber #AmericanDream #WWELegend;"
-- Daniel Bryan: "Just got out of the studio and found out about Dusty Rhodes. Incredibly sad. My sincerest condolences to his family;"
-- "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan: "Just got out of the studio and found out about Dusty Rhodes. Incredibly sad. My sincerest condolences to his family;"
-- Amy Dumas: "It was @WWEDustyRhodes that believed in underdogs like me and @RealPaigeWWE from the beginning. He will be so truly missed;"