Dusty Rhodes: cause of death, son, wife, family, age, net worth, career achievements

Dusty Rhodes: cause of death, son, wife, family, age, net worth, career achievements

Kenneth Mwenda
updated at October 12, 2023 at 1:02 PM

Dusty Rhodes’ cause of death struck a chord with fans worldwide, reminding them of the fragility of life. His passing marked the end of an era in professional wrestling, where charisma and raw talent held centre stage.

Dusty Rhodes' cause of death
Dusty Rhodes attends the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation’s 12th Annual Celebrity Gala at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on November 13, 2014, in New York City. Photo: Dave Kotinsky (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Dusty Rhodes, born Virgil Riley Runnels Jr., is a name that echoes throughout the corridors of professional wrestling history. With charisma, talent, and a storied career, he left an indelible mark on the world of sports entertainment. His life, both in the ring and out of it, is a testament to passion, dedication, and resilience.

Profile and bio summary

Full name

Virgil Riley Runnels Jr.

Date of birth

October 11, 1945


69 years of age (at the time of his passing in 2015)

Place of birth

Austin, Texas, United States





Zodiac sign


Relationship status

Married (at the time of his passing)


Michelle Rubio (Married in 1978)


Sandra McHargue (1965 to 1975)


Dustin, Kristin, Teil, and Cody


6 ft 2 in (188 cm)


275 lb (125 kg)

Hair colour



Professional wrestler, trainer, and booker

Active years

1960s – 2015

Greatest achievement

3-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion

Net worth

Around $3 million

Is Dusty Rhodes still alive?

The former WWE star died on June 11, 2015, at the age of 69. Rhodes has been called one of the best wrestlers in history, praising his charisma and interview skills.

Dusty Rhodes’ cause of death

Health complications marred the sunset years of Rhodes’ life. He suffered from kidney disease, a condition that would, unfortunately, cause his death.

Early life and career

Dusty Rhodes’ net worth
Dusty Rhodes (C) during a ceremony at SAP Center. San Jose, CA, on 28 March 2015. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn
Source: Getty Images

Dusty Rhodes Jr. was born Virgil Riley Runnels Jr. on 12 October 1945 in Austin, Texas, USA. His personal life was a tapestry of bonds and relations. He developed a love for wrestling early on, initially playing football for West Texas State.

Introduced to pro wrestling by Gary Hart, he adopted the name “Dusty Rhodes”, inspired by Andy Griffith’s character in ‘A Face in the Crowd’. In the 1960s, he partnered with Murdoch to form “The Texas Outlaws”.

Despite lacking a wrestler’s typical physique, Rhodes was renowned for his charisma and interviewing skills. In 1974, he emerged as a fan favourite in Florida, parting ways with his manager Gary Hart and Pak Song to embark on a solo career. Between 1977-1981, he unsuccessfully vied for the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) Heavyweight Championship.

By 1985, he wrestled and booked for Jim Crockett Promotions, later acquiring the World Wrestling Championship. He clinched the NWA World Heavyweight Championship thrice.

In 1989, Rhodes briefly joined WWF, managed by Sapphire, before transitioning to WCW in 1991, becoming part of the booking committee. He secured the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 1992 by defeating Big Van Vader. Rhodes later provided commentary for ‘Saturday Night’ and various pay-per-views. After a stint in Extreme Championship Wrestling, he rejoined WCW, reigniting his rivalry with Rick Flair.

By 2003, Rhodes transitioned to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, assuming roles like Director of Authority and head booker. Later, he wrestled for Carolina Championship Wrestling alongside The Rock’ n’ Roll Express. Rhodes’ illustrious career was recognised in 2007 when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his two sons, Goldust and Cody Rhodes.

Dusty Rhodes’ family

He was first married to Sandra McHargue from 1965 to 1975. This union bore two children: Dustin and Kristin Runnels. Kristin notably became a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.

Later, in 1978, he entered a long-lasting union with Michelle Rubio. With his second wife, they had two more children, Teil and Cody Runnels. The Runnels family grew with the arrival of six grandchildren: Dakota, Dalton, Dylan, Kellan, Maris, and Liberty. Dusty also had siblings: a brother named Larry and a sister named Connie.

Career achievements

The wrestling world has often hailed Dusty Rhodes as one of the finest of his generation. His in-ring prowess was matched by his skills on the microphone. The “Hard Times” promo remains a testament to his unparalleled interview skills, often labelled as one of the best interviews in pro wrestling history.

Behind the scenes, Rhodes made equally significant contributions. His stint as a backstage producer in WCW saw him mentor many up-and-coming stars.

Notably, figures like Diamond Dallas Page, Missy Hyatt, Kevin Owens, Becky Lynch, and the tag team FTR have all vocalised the influence Rhodes had on their careers. In recognition of his contributions, WWE’s NXT introduced the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, an annual tag team tournament in his honour.

Dusty Rhodes’ net worth

Dusty Rhodes’ net worth
Dusty Rhodes, Sharlto Copley and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson attend WWE Monday Night Raw at American Airlines Arena on June 7, 2010 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Gustavo Caballero
Source: Getty Images

Dusty Rhodes was estimated to have a net worth of $3 million, and he earned his riches from his career in WWE, both as a wrestler and as a backstage producer in WCW.

Dusty Rhodes’ height

Standing at approximately 6 feet 2 inches tall, he was an imposing figure, making him a force to be reckoned with in the wrestling world. Dusty Rhodes was not just renowned for his charisma and wrestling prowess but also had a significant physical presence in the ring.

Dusty Rhodes’ illness and tragic demise

On June 10, 2015, paramedics were called to his Orlando, Florida home following a reported fall. He was swiftly taken to a nearby hospital.

The next day, the wrestling world was plunged into mourning as Dusty Rhodes died at the age of 69 due to the effects of kidney failure. He was cremated, and his ashes were spread in November 2015 by his son Dustin on a ranch that Rhodes loved to visit.

This marked the end of an era, and tributes poured in from all corners. WWE honoured him with a ten-bell salute, video tributes, and special segments, ensuring his legacy would forever be remembered.

In reflecting on the legendary life of Dusty Rhodes, it is impossible to ignore the mark he left on the wrestling world. His legacy, however, was tragically cut short due to his cause of death, which was complications from kidney failure.

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Kenneth Mwenda photo
Kenneth Mwenda
Kenneth Mwenda is a business and sports writer with over five years of experience. At Sportsbrief, he contributes to writing biographies and listicles.