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A distraught Don Cornelius called son shortly before death

February 3, 2012 |  8:04 am

"Soul Train"

A distraught "Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius called his son early Tuesday morning, shortly before he is believed to have fatally shot himself in the head, law enforcement sources said.

The son rushed to Cornelius' home and found his father mortally wounded with a gunshot wound to the head. He called 911, and his father was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The detail has come to light as the Los Angeles Police Department wraps up its investigation into Cornelius' death.

PHOTOS: Don Cornelius | 1936 - 2012

Sources said detectives have interviewed several people close to Cornelius and say that all evidence suggests he took his own life.

They have been looking into health problems that Cornelius had been experiencing.

Cornelius had undergone brain surgery in the 1980s and was quoted in newspapers at the time as saying he didn't feel quite the same afterward. His second marriage, to Russian model Viktoria Chapman, ended in divorce after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor spousal battery in 2009. He had alluded to health problems in divorce papers.

Although law enforcement sources believe Cornelius killed himself, they said it would take days to fully investigate, including interviewing friends and family and examining evidence in his home.

According to The Times' Hollywood Walk of Fame database, Cornelius’ “Soul Train” became the longest-running, first-run nationally syndicated show in television history, bringing African American music and style to the world for 35 years.

The LAPD will formally end its probe when the coroner's office establishes a cause of death. The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing, said that may occur in the next few days.

Details of the conversation between father and son were not available.


Don Cornelius shooting death: Probe could be lengthy

'Soul Train' creator Don Cornelius dead in apparent suicide 

Remembering Don Cornelius: 'Soul Train' creator defined an era

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Don Cornelius' "Soul Train" showcased the musical tastes of African American teens, widely spreading their music and style. Above, Cornelius onstage during a 1994 taping. Credit: Chris Haston / Associated Press