– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
World News: Television host and producer Don Cornelius was found dead at his California home on Wednesday from a gunshot wound to the head in an apparent suicide. He was 75.
Cornelius, born Donald Cortez Cornelius in Chicago, Illinois, is famously known for creating and hosting ‘Soul Train,’ a TV musical variety show that mostly featured African-American artists commonly performing R&B, soul, hip hop, funk, disco, jazz, and gospel.
Police found Cornelius’ body early Wednesday morning at around 4am local time at his Sherman Oaks, located in Los Angeles, home with a gunshot wound to the head. He was transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where he was pronounced dead, but local authorities believe the gunshot wound was self-inflicted.
“This is devastating news,” Shawn Holley, Cornelius’ friend and lawyer, told gossip and entertainment news website TMZ. “Don was a kind, funny and brilliant man. Even though his many health battles had left him frail, he remained vibrant, courtly and always sharp as a tack.”
Cornelius began working at local radio station WVON in his native Chicago as an announcer, disc jockey and news reporter. He had also been promoting traveling caravan shows that he called ‘The Soul Train’ in which local music groups would perform in concerts at Chicago-area high schools.
Chicago’s WCIU-TV, which later transformed to UHF, noted Cornelius’ work and invited him to bring ‘The Soul Train’ to television in 1970. The show, which officially aired from 1971 to 2006, becoming the longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history, would later move to Los Angeles and. It continued to be produced in Chicago as a local program as well.
Prior to his death, Cornelius had been arrested in 2008, pleading no contest to misdemeanor domestic violence for beating his wife, Russian model Victoria Avila-Cornelius, also known as Viktoria Chapman. He was sentenced to 3 years probation. About two years later, he and his wife divorced in 2010.
Cornelius had also reportedly been suffering from significant health issues, including a stroke and a condition that required brain surgery.