Don Imus Dead at 79
Controversial radio host Don Imus has died. The 79-year-old was admitted to a hospital in College Station, Texas on Tuesday (Dec. 24) and died on Friday (Dec. 27).
Imus was known for both his shocking, often controversial political and social opinions, as well as his charitable endeavors through his Imus Ranch in New Mexico and several hospitals nationwide. His nearly 50-year radio and television career included lengthy runs in syndication as well as broadcasts on MSNBC, Fox Business and RFD-TV.
The final two decades of his time on air often included interviews with relevant political figures even as he held nicknames for some he disliked. Hillary Clinton was "Satan." Vice President Dick Cheney was a "War Criminal." Rush Limbaugh was a "Drug addled gas bag" (per the New York Times). Throughout his career his pranks could be labeled anywhere from tasteless to racist.
His most famous controversy came in 2007 when he referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "rough girls" and "nappy-headed hos" on air. The fallout cost him a syndication deal with CBS, but he'd later settle a $40 million lawsuit with the network. The Reverend Al Sharpton and then-presidential candidate Barack Obama were two people who called for his removal from the airwaves. When he signed off air the final time on March 29, 2018, Imus tearfully apologized for those comments.
As crass as he was on air, Imus received tremendous praise for his charitable work off duty. He was a big supporter of the troops, raising millions for the rehabilitation of veterans of the Iraq war. The Imus Ranch also welcomed kids battling or recovering from cancer. The ranch closed in 2014. One of the kids who'd visited in the early years was 10-year-old Zachary Don Cates, whom Imus and his wife Deirdre would eventually adopt.
Imus entered the Baylor Scott and White Medical Center on Tuesday, according to USA Today. His publicist Matthew Hiltzik confirmed the radio host's death to several media outlets on Friday. Deidre, his wife since 1999, and his 21-year-old son Wyatt were by his side. Zachary was returning from military service overseas. Imus also leaves behind four daughters from previous marriages: Nadine, Ashley, Elizabeth and Toni.
The family will hold a private service in the coming days. They request donations be made to the Imus Ranch foundation.
Imus becomes the second legendary radio personality to die this year. In October, American Country Countdown host Bob Kingsley succumbed to cancer at age 80. He also died in Texas.
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