Don Imus, the famed radio personality who hosted the Imus in the Morning show and worked in broadcast for nearly a half-century, died this morning at the age of 79. He was hospitalized on Christmas Eve at the Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas, and a cause of death has not been released at this time. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Deirdre, his sons Wyatt and Lt. Zachary Don Cates, and his daughters Nadine, Ashley, Elizabeth, and Toni.
The family issued the following statement about Imus today: “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 was relayed by The Hollywood Reporter.
Imus was a nationally known figure, and often-times a controversial one. He earned acclaim in smaller markets on his ascent to national syndication, battled addiction to drugs and alcohol, was at one point named to Time’s 25 Most Influential People in America, and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. In the 1990s, his show was even simulcast on MSNBC, but the DJ’s shock-jock tendencies ultimately lead to his termination. Imus referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hos” in 2007, and CBS Radio pulled him from the air shortly after for the racist remark. The host apologized for the language, calling it “completely inappropriate” and “thoughtless and stupid,” but reportedly left with a golden parachute of millions of dollars on his way out the door.
Imus was also a philanthropist, raising tens of millions of dollars for groups like CJ Foundation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and he also ran the Imus Ranch in New Mexico for children battling cancer.