Published Feb 01, 2012Don Cornelius, the creator and onetime host of the iconic R&B variety show Soul Train, was found dead this morning (February 1) of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 75.
TMZ reports that Cornelius's body was found around 4 a.m. in his home in Sherman Oaks, CA. He was then taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and declared dead.
This news comes after a few difficult years for the TV presenter. He was accused of spousal abuse in 2008, and after initially pleading not guilty, he eventually changed his plea to no contest in 2009 and was sentenced to probation. His wife also took out a restraining order against him, and the couple's divorce was finalized in 2010. Cornelius also suffered from ill health in recent years.
Cornelius founded Soul Train in 1971 as a way to give African-American artists exposure, and the program showcased artists from a variety of genres including R&B, hip-hop, funk, disco and more. The creator served as host up until 1993, and the show was eventually discontinued in 2006. At 1,117 episodes, it currently holds the record for the longest continuously running first-run syndicated program in TV history.
Although the show has been cancelled, the spin-off Soul Train Music Awards continues take place annually after being founded in 1987.