Don Cornelius, â€˜Soul Trainâ€™ Creator, Passes At The Age Of 75
Don Cornelius, the producer and television host who created the dance show â€œSoul Train,â€ was found shot dead in his Los Angeles home early Wednesday morning in what appears to be a suicide, the Los Angeles Police Department and the county coronerâ€™s office said. He was 75 years old
A person called the police from Mr. Corneliusâ€™s house on Mulholland Drive in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood just before 4 a.m. and reported shots had been fired, a police spokesman, Chris No, said. When officers arrived, they were let into the house and found Mr. Cornelius lying lifeless on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head that appeared to be self-inflicted, said the Los Angeles County assistant chief coroner, Ed Winter.
Mr. Cornelius was taken to Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 4:56 a.m., Mr. Winter said. â€œIt was reported as a suicide, a self-inflicted wound,â€ he said. â€œI have investigators at the hospital.â€
â€œSoul Trainâ€ was one of the longest-running syndicated shows in television history and played a critical role in spreading the music of black America to the world, offering wide exposure to musicians like James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson in the 1970s and 1980s.
â€œI am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague and business partner Don Cornelius,â€ said Quincy Jones, according to the Associated Press. â€œDon was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business. Before MTV, there was â€˜Soul Train.â€™ That will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched. My heart goes out to Donâ€™s family and loved ones.â€
Mr. Cornelius, a former disc jockey, created the show in 1970 in Chicago on WCIU-TV and served as its writer, producer and host. Quickly becoming a success, the show was broadcast nationally in 1971, beginning its 35-year run. Besides the performers, the program showcased young dancers who would strut their stuff, laying the groundwork for countless dance programs, including current hits like Foxâ€™s â€œSo You Think You Can Danceâ€ and MTVâ€™s â€œAmericaâ€™s Best Dance Crew.â€ â€œWe had a show that kids gravitated to,â€ Mr. Cornelius said.
In a 2010 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Mr. Cornelius said he was excited about a movie project he was developing about the show. â€œWeâ€™ve been in discussions with several people about getting a movie off the ground. It wouldnâ€™t be the â€˜Soul Trainâ€™ dance show. It would be more of a biographical look at the project,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s going to be about some of the things that really happened on the show.â€
Mr. Cornelius stopped hosting the show in 1993, and â€œSoul Trainâ€ ceased production in 2006. Two years later, he sold the show to MadVision Entertainment.
SOURCE: NY Times