Wrestling cham­pion was also known for his gift of gab

DUSTY RHODES, 69

The Washington Post Sunday - - OBITUARIES -

Vir­gil Run­nels, a for­mer pro­fes­sional wrestler known to fans as Dusty Rhodes, died June 11. He was 69.

The World Wrestling En­ter­tain­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion an­nounced the death but did not say where or how he died, cit­ing the fam­ily’s omis­sion of de­tails.

Mr. Run­nels, who also went by the nick­name “The Amer­i­can Dream,” was a mem­ber of the WWE Hall of Fame and held the Na­tional Wrestling Al­liance cham­pi­onship three times.

He be­came well known dur­ing the height of pro­fes­sional wrestling’s pop­u­lar­ity in the 1970s and ’80s, ap­pear­ing in sig­na­ture yel­low polka-dot tights with his side­kick “valet,” Sap­phire.

Mr. Run­nels re­mained a fix­ture with WWE af­ter re­tir­ing from the ring and was work­ing at its Per­for­mance Cen­ter in Or­lando.

Vir­gil Ri­ley Run­nels Jr. was born in Austin on Oct. 12, 1945. Through­out his sev­eral decades in the ring, he en­deared him­self to fans as an every­man with a less- than-stel­lar physique but a gre­gar­i­ous gift of gab be­hind a mi­cro­phone.

Mr. Run­nels was also the fa­ther of two WWE wrestlers: Dustin Run­nels, bet­ter known as Goldust, and Cody Run­nels, who wres­tles un­der the name Star­dust. A com­plete list of sur­vivors could not im­me­di­ately be con­firmed.

MEDIAPUNCH/REX SHUTTERSTOCK VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Fans em­braced Dusty Rhodes and his every­man de­meanor.

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