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Controversial radio legend Don Imus dies at 79

By
Karen Butler

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Acerbic and controversial radio personality Don Imus died Friday in Texas where he had been hospitalized since Tuesday. He was 79.

Imus' representative confirmed his death to Billboard.com, but did not disclose the cause of it.

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The host of Imus in the Morning from 1968 to 2018 was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 and had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. The show began on local stations in the western United States and moved to WNBC in New York in 1972. In 2007, his show was broadcast by WABC in New York.

Some stations dropped the shock jock's popular radio program in 2007 when he made racist remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team. He apologized for the comments and the team graciously accepted his mea culpa.

Twenty years ago, the California native and former U.S. marine co-founded with his wife Deirdre the Imus Ranch summer camp for children with cancer.

Imus was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters' Radio Hall of Fame in 1989 and earned four Marconi awards throughout his career. He hosted the White House Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner in 1996, Variety said.

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He is survived by Deirdre, his spouse since 1994, as well as his sons Wyatt and Zachary Don Cates, and daughters Nadine, Ashley, Elizabeth and Toni.

"Don loved and adored Deirdre, who unconditionally loved him back, loved spending his time watching Wyatt become a highly skilled, champion rodeo rider and calf roper, and loved and supported Zachary, who first met the Imus family at age 10 when he participated in the Imus Ranch program for kids with cancer, having battled and overcome leukemia, eventually becoming a member of the Imus family and Don and Deirdre's second son," Imus' family said in a statement.

Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Morning Joe program, paid tribute to Imus on Twitter.

"I spent much of my childhood listening to AM radio stations at night, from WABC to CKLW. During one trip to New York City, I recorded a guy named Imus on my cassette player are was hooked. I knew him first as a radio legend and later as a NYC icon who was nice to (a) Southern guy," Scarborough tweeted.

"Morning Joe obviously owes its format to Don Imus. No one else could have gotten away with that much talk on cable news. Thanks for everything, Don, and Godspeed," he added.

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Notable deaths of 2019

Jerry Herman
Jerry Herman listens to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama as the president and First Lady Michelle Obama host the 2010 Kennedy Center Honorees at a reception in the East Room of the White House on December 5, 2010. The Tony-award winning composer died on December 26, 2019, at the age of 88. File Pool Photo by Gary Fabiano/UPI | License Photo

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