Legendary radio star and TV host Don Imus, the "shock jock" with a reputation for stirring up controversy, has passed away. Retiring just last year after a nearly-fifty year career, the Imus in the Morning host reportedly died Friday at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas, after being hospitalized on Christmas Eve. His family has since confirmed his death, though an exact cause of death hasn't yet been revealed. Imus was 79 years old.
A statement from the Imus family about the radio star's passing touches on his love for his wife and their children. "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," the statement reads in part.
Born in 1940, Imus floated from one private school to another before dropping out to join the United States Marine Corp. After leaving the military, Imus found a job as a window dresser before he was let go for performing strip teases on the mannequins; this would be the first of many firings to come in the future shock jock's career. In the '60s' Imus sought success as a musician and songwriter in Hollywood, only to wind up homeless and desolate. He would later find work in Arizona as brakeman for the Southern Pacific Railroad, but a horrific mining accident left him seriously wounded and sent him back to the drawing board to figure out his true calling.
In 1966, Imus had attended the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, though his abrasive personality led to his dismissal from the school. Imus then took the initiative of securing his own broadcasting license to begin his life as a radio star, first hitting the airwaves in 1968 for KUTY in Palmdale, California. In just two months, his show had become number one in the ratings for his time slot and even earned Imus a Billboard Award for Air Personality of the Year.
Finding instant success in radio, Imus had found his path in life. His bizarre radio segments and loose tongue made him one of the most controversial figures on the radio in addition to the most popular. One of his biggest controversies came early in his career with a prank call to McDonald's ordering 1,200 hamburgers on behalf of the National Guard. The Federal Communications Commission was not amused, and the prank directly led to a new ruling requiring all radio DJs to identify themselves when they make prank calls on the air.
In the decades since, Imus has maintained his reputation as one of radio's most offensive personalities. Still, Imus would continue his work on the radio as no one controversy could ever seem to do him in. In addition to appearing on radio, Imus would also release multiple comedy albums, author books, and appear on television shows such Geraldo Rivera's Good Night America. All the while, he would remain as the host of his hit radio show Imus in the Morning as well. It all came to an end when Imus announced his retirement as a broadcaster in January of 2018, telling his fans on Twitter that "the party's over." In March of that year, Imus in the Morning would air its final show.
Imus is survived by his wife, Deirdre, sons Wyatt and Zachary, and daughters Nadine, Ashley, Elizabeth, and Toni. The family is asking for donations to be made to the Imus Ranch Foundation, which benefits charities that help the families of children diagnosed with cancer and other major illnesses. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.