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'Soul Train' creator Don Cornelius' death officially ruled suicide

February 7, 2012 | 11:21 am

"Soul Train"

"Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said on Tuesday.

The coroner is officially ruling Cornelius' death a suicide but said additional toxicology test were pending.

Sources had told The Times last week that police investigators were looking into Cornelius' health problems.

PHOTOS: Don Cornelius | 1936 - 2012

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.

A relative of Cornelius found him at his Mulholland Drive home last week. 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.


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-- 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