“Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius was found dead in his Los Angeles home early Wednesday morning. He was pronounced dead after the Los Angeles Fire Department transferred him to a nearby hospital, Officer Sara Faden of the Los Angeles Police Department told The Washington Post. Cornelius was 75. Update, via the Associated Press: He was pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 4:56 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter.
Cornelius launched “Soul Train” in Chicago in 1970 and it quickly became a seminal part of black culture, featuring the hottest music, fashion and dancing. Cornelius hosted the show until 1993 and in addition to his mellifluous voice and of-the-moment style, he became known for his signature sign-off: “I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soooooouuuuullllllll.”
“Soul Train” eventually became syndicated in more than 100 markets. In a 1995 interview with The Washington Post, Cornelius called the show “the godmother and godfather of all black entertainment television.” It “transmitted African American culture to an unbelievably broad audienc,” Lonnie G. Bunch, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, said recently. “It became this interesting snapshot of several generations of African American culture and style.” Many artifacts from “Soul Train” were donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture this past summer.
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