TMZ.com reports that Don Cornelius, creator of the syndicated hit dance show “Soul Train” committed suicide in his Sherman Oaks, Calif. home.
The website said police found Cornelius about 4 a.m. with a gunshot wound to the head, that they believe was self-inflicted. He was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead. He was 75.
In 1970, Cornelius, a former Chicago disc jockey and radio reporter, debuted “Soul Train” an R&B-themed youth-oriented dance show on WCIU and moved it to syndication the next year with stations in several cities picking it up. When the show moved to Los Angeles, it became a national, then international hit. The show ran in syndication for 25 years before it went off the air in 2006
Cornelius ended his run as host of the show in 1993, but remained its executive producer, allowing a series of younger guest hosts to be in front of the camera. The Soul Train brand expanded as it had become more popular, including the Soul Train Music Awards, which honored R&B, jazz and gospel performers, and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, focusing on female artists.
Cornelius, according to TMZ, underwent a bitter divorce in 2009 and told a Los Angeles judge that he was experiencing “significant health issues,” and wanted to “finalize this divorce” before he died.
The Los Angeles Times said there was no sign of foul play at the scene of Cornelius’ death, but are investigating. He told the paper in a 2010 interview that plans were being made for a biographical “Soul Train” movie.
“We’ve been in discussions with several people about getting a movie off the ground. It wouldn’t be the ‘Soul Train’ dance show, it would be more of a biographical look at the project,” he said.
By Madison Gray