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Don Cornelius' health problems probed by investigators

February 2, 2012 |  7:31 am
"Soul Train"

Authorities investigating the death of "Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius continued to sift for clues after he was found in his Encino home Wednesday with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Sources close to the investigation said they were looking at several possible triggers, including Cornelius' health and his financial situation. But they emphasized they had not made any determinations.

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.

With his first wife, Delores, Cornelius had two sons, Anthony and Raymond. 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.

Though 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.

The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County coroner's office are investigating.

PHOTOS: Don Cornelius | 1936 - 2012

A relative of Cornelius found him at his Mulholland Drive home Wednesday. He was rushed to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, according to law enforcement sources.

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.

Inspired by “American Bandstand,” Cornelius devised a similar program spotlighting soul music and introduced it on the Chicago UHF station WCIU in 1970. It was syndicated in 1971, and Cornelius soon moved the production to Hollywood. Cornelius was the deep-voiced host, and in addition to major black artists, the show also attracted such R&B-leaning rock performers as David Bowie and Robert Palmer.


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'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" was the first TV show to cater to the musical tastes of black teens. Above, Cornelius onstage during a 1994 taping. Credit: Chris Haston / Associated Press