WWE says Virgil Runnels, a former professional wrestler known by his fans as Dusty Rhodes, has died. He was 69.

The company said Runnels died Thursday, but a spokesman declined to say where or how he died.

Runnels, who also went by the nickname “The American Dream,” 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.

In a statement, WWE offered condolences to the Runnels family, calling him “a caring husband and a creative visionary who helped shape the landscape of WWE long after his in-ring career had ended.”

Runnels remained a fixture with WWE after retiring from the ring and was working at WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.

Throughout his several decades in the ring, the Austin, Texas, native endeared himself to fans as an everyman with a less than stellar physique, but a gregarious gift of gab behind a microphone.

Runnels was also the father of two other famous WWE wrestlers: Dustin Runnels, better known as Goldust, and Cody Runnels, who wrestles under the name Stardust.

Jim Ross, a longtime WWE broadcaster who worked alongside Runnels, described being “heartbroken” about losing what he said was “a broadcast partner, colleague and mentor.”

“He was arguably the most charismatic performer of all time,” Ross said. “His amazing unique verbal styling will never be duplicated or exceeded. He was exactly what he portrayed on TV: A blue-collar, common man, who rose from being son of farmer to being a part of American pop culture, whose memory will live forever. Therefore, for many he was truly the American dream.”