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Russell Armstrong's death: Does it say anything about reality TV?

August 17, 2011 |  6:32 am

Russell_And Taylor_Armstrong

Russell Armstrong was thrust into the spotlight last fall in "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," the strait-laced husband of series cast member Taylor Armstrong.  By early Tuesday morning, he became a tragic reality TV footnote as news broke that he had been found dead Monday night in an apparent suicide.

Armstrong and his wife appeared to be living the sort of lavish lifestyle typical of those often featured on the Bravo series. But, as has been the case with some "Housewives" cast members, the lens only captured the surface.

The 47-year-old, who described himself as a venture capitalist, was a struggling entrepreneur who racked up $12 million in debt in the tech bust and had recently been sued with his wife in the alleged diversion of investor money.

Some questioned whether Armstrong's appearance on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" -- known for showcasing an affluent lifestyle -- may have contributed in some way to Armstrong's unraveling.

"'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,' I think, was [Russell's] downfall. The TV show put a lot of pressure on him to produce financially. You're on a show with a couple like the Maloofs, who are verifiable billionaires, and you're not," said friend William Ratner, referring to "Housewives" personality Adrienne Maloof, whose family owns the Sacramento Kings as well as Las Vegas' Palms casino resort.

Read "Did 'Real Housewives' have a role in Russell Armstrong's death?" for more on his financial situation, what people who knew him had to say, and Bravo's response.

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'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' husband Russell Armstrong found dead

-- Yvonne Villarreal and Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/villarrealy

twitter.com/AmyKinLa

Photo: Russell Armstrong, left, with wife Taylor Armstrong. Credit: Getty Images

 

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