Dusty Rhodes, wrestling’s “American Dream,” dies at 69

Dusty Rhodes — the rotund, easy bleeding, easy talking professional wrestler who billed himself as “The American Dream” — died Thursday, the WWE said on its website.

Rhodes, whose real name was Virgil Runnels, was 69.

Rhodes rose to fame as a common man figure. He didn’t have the chiseled body some associate with today’s wrestlers. He was a good guy wrestler, often battling heels like Abdullah the Butcher, Blackjack Mulligan, Harley Race and The Four Horseman, who were led by Ric Flair.

“My mentor @WWEDustyRhodes. Much love to your family and more respect than can ever be measured. Love you Dream,” Flair tweeted.

Rhodes liked to pitch himself as the son of a plumber from Austin, Texas, and an everyman who became the extremely popular champion of the National Wrestling Alliance three times in the 1970s.

He moved on to the World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE), and also wrestled on several other circuits before coming back to the WWE in the mid-2000s.

He will be remembered for the spirited and often hilarious in-studio interviews he would give to wrestling commentators. He is also remembered by longtime wrestling fans for the many scars on his forehead, from which he bled profusely during the early days of his career.

Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. He has two sons who wrestle professionally as Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (Cody Runnels).