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(Updated) "Soul Train" Host Don Cornelius Dead of Apparent Suicide

The creator of what some say was the longest-running national syndicated television show in history was found dead in his Los Angeles home about 4 a.m. today, according to national news reports.

 

Don Cornelius, the creator and longtime host of the groundbreaking music show "Soul Train," has died, the Huffington Post and other news sites are reporting. He was 75.

According to a story in today's Los Angeles Times , a family member arrived at his Mulholland Drive home in Encino on Wednesday morning and found Cornelius with a gunshot wound to the head, authorities said. That family member was one of Cornelius' two sons, according to a report on TMZ.

He was rushed to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 4:56 a.m., according to an Associated Press story on today's USA Today website.

Cornelius' death is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department and L.A. County coroner's office.

The sources said detectives think it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound but stressed they are still investigating.

A radio news announcer by trade, Cornelius began moonlighting at WCIU-TV in the 1960s, according to a story in today's Huffington Post. While there, he toyed with the idea of creating an African-American version of "American Bandstand," Dick Clark's influential music show, with live dancing five days a week, the story reports.

On Aug. 17, 1970, the first episode of Soul Train premiered on the Chicago station, with Jerry Butler and the Chi-Lites among the first guests, according to a report on The Wall Street Journal website; By the following year, it was being syndicated in other markets.

In a shrewd busines move, Cornelius started a production company and moved the show to Los Angeles from Chicago in 1971, producing the show in color for the first time, according to the Wall Street Journal story.

Johnson Products was the lead sponsor and the company's products, including Afro-Sheen, were prizes for a name-the-performer feature on each show. Only a handful of stations signed on for the first season, but by 1974 nearly 100 stations carried the show, and the biggest names in black pop music were appearing weekly.

"Soul Train" became the longest-running nationally syndicated show in history, airing from 1971 through 2006, according to a story in the Black Voices section of The Huffington Post.

The show brought African-American music and style into dens and living rooms every Saturday in Cascade and across the country for almost four decades.

"Don was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business," Quincy Jones said, according to the USA Today story. "Before MTV, there was Soul Train— that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched."

Janita Poe February 01, 2012 at 06:11 PM
If you grew up in Cascade Heights, you grew up spending Saturdays in front of the TV, practicing the latest dance moves with Don and the Soul Train line dancers... RIP Mr. Cornelius and thanks for the memories.
Elle Biannca Giselle February 01, 2012 at 06:17 PM
RIP, sir. I don't remember the show, as it was before my time. Wow, what a legendary career, though. I find it interesting that today is the start of Black History Month, and I'm curious if that in some way could have influenced the timing of his demise.
Leslye "JOY" Allen February 01, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I am speechless. Not only did Don Cornelius launch the careers of hundreds of great Black artists, he produced the longest running syndicated show in television history. He was a true trailblazer in so many ways.
M Jernice Flowers February 02, 2012 at 01:11 AM
I am speech*LESS just like Leslye "JOY" Allen just wrote he did NOT hath to go out this way! It's said that men are so prideful to WANT/Not to share their inner PAIN!... I wished some one was bold enough to hath/have said Okay! Brotha! we are gonna get you some HELP! Man this Awful just down right Sad!... a Soul in Hell for sudicide.. One of our Black American ICON'S! That made white america STAND--up! LOOK! and Listen!... KUDO'S I mean seriously!...we thanks YOU!... to Brian Wms, Nat'l nightly news broadcast reporter to Honor him tonight on NBC/msnbc.com at the 630p time slot. Hey that rarity we should say? Thank GOD for JESUS! When there is time and hope is still for us ALL! GIVE Him your pain! Cry out to the LORD!... John 3:-16-22. he says I'm just a PRAYER away!... May his family find inner strength, peace, hope, and ALL the (9~fruits of the spirit, to get them thru this trial of time) Many of us will be going thru as well!.. The Man truly was a trailblazer that paved the way! I was 15yrs old when the VERY FIRST SHOW AIRED! 08.17.1970, as The Huffington Post reported.
Maynard Franklin February 02, 2012 at 06:52 AM
I'm sorry to hear about his death. It was good for a young black male to see him, b/c during that time he was one of only a few strong black males you could see on TV.
Judy Rayford February 02, 2012 at 02:36 PM
My Heart felt tears goes out to his spirit. What is really going on? Where is hope?
Mary W. February 03, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Another smart black man gone. Too bad that he had no one to see that he was suffering. Everyone's in their own little world.
Karen Adams Anderson February 03, 2012 at 03:14 AM
When we see a person suffering, show them a little love....Let this be a lesson to our community....This is so so sad....
Rosalind Mckinney February 04, 2012 at 03:59 AM
my heart goes out to the family of Don Conelius i pray that GOD give them the strength to go on and live just know that GOD does not make no mistake his time was up may his spirit lives on and may GOD BLESS THE FAMILY
Rosalind Mckinney February 04, 2012 at 04:04 AM
I agree with Mary W.it's like no one care anymore everyone is for self we need to come together and love one another and we need to help each other out some people are afraid that you will get ahead of them
M Jernice Flowers February 04, 2012 at 08:14 PM
To, Mary W. and Rosalind McKinney, Yeah it is so very SAD! It has been said that men can't handle PAIN so well. Sad to say, he let his feelings and PRIDE over rule his judgement. I so wished they'd had remembered there Old school/never ever forgetting their child rearing training of what would Jesus Do? Now and then, which is never EVER, outdated or old... But Success and the lust of it blinds us so much to forget our real old time/old school chruch up bringing, if he 'd that?.. Due to his age, I believe he had to, some where down the line. Now a soul is in Hell for this. The word says that GOD is NOT ever a man, that He should Lie! Nor does He hath to repent for writing His very own words...That must come to past. Now this is ministring to me as well. 1st and foremost, I wrote this to you'll and others that might see it as well. Yes we must truly hold up his family, his two sons that was ROBBED of there father, (thru this selfish act he did to them), not realizing/caring about the PAIN of apparent suicide? His son's and Us ALL Needs KING Jesus strength to get thru this trying awful time. But Lord we thank you for healing, delivering them in every way possible, In Jesus Name, we ask, we believe, we except it to be so.

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