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Andrew Breitbart's death to be reviewed by L.A. County coroner

March 1, 2012 |  9:18 am

More notable deaths of 2012

The Los Angeles County coroner's office will review the death of conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who collapsed and died Thursday while taking a nighttime walk near his Westwood home.

Given his young age -- he was 43 -- and the unexpected manner in which he died, authorities will conduct an autopsy to help determine a specific cause of death.

Breitbart's father-in-law, actor Orson Bean, said in an interview with The Times that Breitbart was found collapsed near his home about 12:30 a.m. Paramedics took him to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, but doctors were unable to revive him.

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2012

"We're devastated. I loved him like a son," Bean said. "It looks like a heart attack, but no one knows until" an autopsy is done.

Breitbart, a star of the tea party movement, was a Hollywood-hating, mainstream-media-loathing conservative, according to a Times profile.

After 10 years as editor of the Drudge Report and helping to launch the Huffington Post, Breitbart launched in 2005 his news aggregation site Breitbart.com, which was designed to counter what he described as the "bully media cabal" that he said ignored stories at odds with prevailing liberal orthodoxy.

His goal, he often said, was to "destroy the institutional left."

His big splash came in 2009, when he posted an undercover video in which a pair of conservative activists posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend asked employees of the community group ACORN for help with a brothel that would house underage Salvadorans.

ACORN was embarrassed when some of its workers seemed too helpful; Congress responded by defunding the organization.

In 2010, Breitbart posted a 2 1/2-minute video of Shirley Sherrod, a black employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in which she appeared to make racially charged comments.

It left viewers with the inaccurate impression Sherrod had deliberately not helped a white man save his family farm in 1986 when she worked for a Georgia nonprofit organization.

The furor from the video caused Sherrod to be fired; when it was later revealed her comments had been taken out of context, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called Sherrod to apologize and ask whether she would return to the department.

Breitbart's conservative news websites broke the story about the sexually charged tweets by Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York, in a scandal that led to his resignation.

The Times' Robin Abcarian visited his office in West Los Angeles in 2010: "The command center of Andrew Breitbart's growing media empire is a suite of offices on Sawtelle Boulevard in West Los Angeles with the temporary feel of a campaign office. Only the computers seem firmly anchored."

Breitbart lived in Westwood with his wife, Susie, and their four young children, Samson, 12; Mia, 10; Charlie, 6; and William, 4.. He was adopted by moderately conservative Jewish parents and attended two of L.A.'s most exclusive private schools  —Carlthorp and Brentwood.

His father, Gerald, owned Fox and Hounds, a landmark Tudor-style Santa Monica restaurant that later became the punk rock club Madame Wong's West. His mother, Arlene, was an executive at Bank of America in Beverly Hills and downtown L.A.

Breitbart is also survived by his sister, Tracy.


Breitbart collapsed near Westwood home

Andrew Breitbart's death: Twitter reaction

'They couldn't revive him,' father-in-law says

Review of Breitbart's book, 'Righteous Indignation'

-- Andrew Blankstein and Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: Andrew Breitbart speaks at the final day of the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 12 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images