- (Photo: Reuters/Gus Ruelas)
Don Cornelius, the creator of the nationally syndicated television show "Soul Train," is suspected to have committed suicide in his California home Wednesday.
Cornelius, 75, and was found in his Sherman Oaks, Calif., home by law enforcement officials. Police officers told celebrity news website TMZ that the former host and producer died from what looked to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Cornelius was discovered at 4 a.m. and was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"Soul Train" ran on air for 35 years with over 1,100 episodes. The first music show of its kind to welcome jazz, funk and rhythm & blues artists, "Soul Train" featured guests appearances by The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ike & Tina Turner, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Christina Aquilera, David Bowie, James Brown and John Legend.
For its contributions to the African-American community, the program was included in the Smithsonian's National museum of African-American History last year.
Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the museum, spoke to The Washington Post about the influence of Cornelius' show last year.
"From a scholarly point of view, this is one of those television shows that beamed African-American cultural to the households of black and white America," Bunch said. "It become of the early crossover shows."
During a 2010 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Cornelius spoke about turning his crossover program into a motion picture.
"We've been in discussions with several people about getting a movie off the ground. It wouldn't be the 'Soul Train' dance show, it would be more of a biographical look at the project," he said. "It's going to be about some of the things that really happened on the show."
Although the public never got to witness a movie tribute to the "Soul Train" experience, many took to Twitter to pay homage to Cornelius after learning about his death Wednesday.
"Just woke up to some sad news," singer and rapper Wyclef tweeted. "R.I.P Don Cornelius founder of soul train."
Rapper Ice Cube used the late producer and host's sign-off mantra to wish him well.
"Rest in peace, love & Soul...Don Cornelius," Cube tweeted.