Donald Cortez “Don” Cornelius was a television show host and producer who was best known as the creator of the nationally syndicated dance/music franchise Soul Train, which he hosted from 1971 until 1993.
Cornelius sold the show to Mad Vision Entertainment in 2008.
On February 1, 2012, Don Cornelius killed himself. In the early-morning hours, officers responded to a report of a shooting at 12685 Mulholland Drive and found Don Cornelius with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead by the Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner.
According to former Soul Train host, Shemar Moore, Cornelius may have been suffering from early onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and his health had been in decline.
An autopsy found that Cornelius had been suffering from seizures during the last 15 years of his life, a complication of a 21-hour brain operation he underwent in 1982 to correct a congenital deformity in his cerebral arteries. He admitted that he was never quite the same after that surgery and it was a factor in his decision to retire from hosting Soul Train in 1993.
According to his son, he was in “extreme pain” by the end and said shortly before his death “I don’t know how much longer I can take this.”