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Don Imus, the shock jock who was a staple of morning drive-time radio for decades, has died at a Texas hospital where he had been hospitalized since Christmas Eve.
Imus passed away at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas, Friday, at the age of 79, according to a statement from his family.
A cause of death was not given.
Shock jock Don Imus (pitured at a 2010 awards show) a staple of morning drive-time radio for decades, has died at a Texas hospital where he had been hospitalized since Christmas Eve
Imus was 79 when he passed at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas, Friday, at the age of 79, according to a statement from his family. He had been retired from his nationally syndicated 'Imus in the Morning' radio show in March 2018
Deirdre, his wife of 25 years, and son Wyatt, 21, were at his side. Another son, Lieutenant Zachary Don Cates was returning from military service overseas.
Imus had been retired from his nationally syndicated 'Imus in the Morning' radio show since March 2018.
Known to fans as the 'I-Man', Imus made a career on air speaking his mind about politics, pop culture and other hot topics.
But he also faced a barrage of criticism and lost some of his national stature in 2007, after he made racially disparaging comments about members of Rutgers University's women's basketball team, calling them 'nappy-headed hos.'
He later met with members of the team and apologized in person. Imus admitted that the oft-replayed 10-second snippet had crossed a line, and called it 'stupid'
Imus' unsparing on-air persona was tempered by his off-air philanthropy, raising more than $40 million for groups including the CJ Foundation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
He ran a New Mexico ranch for dying children, and often used his radio show to 'solicit' guests for donations.
A pediatric medical center bearing Imus' name was opened at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
Imus, born on a Riverside, California, cattle ranch, was the oldest of two boys — his brother Fred later became an 'Imus In the Morning' show regular.
The family moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, where Imus joined the Marines before taking jobs as a freight train brakeman and uranium miner.
Only at age 28 did he appear on the airwaves. His caustic persona, though it would later serve him well, was initially a problem: Imus was canned by a small station in Stockton, California, uttering the word 'hell.'
The controversy only enhanced his career, a pattern that continued throughout the decades.
Imus, moving to larger California stations, earned Billboard's 'Disc Jockey of the Year' award for medium-sized markets after a stunt where he ordered 1,200 hamburgers to go from a local McDonald's.
His next stop was Cleveland, where he won DJ of the year for large markets.
By 1971, he was doing the morning drive-time show on WNBC-AM in New York, the nation's largest and most competitive radio market. Imus brought along a destructive taste for vodka, along with a growing reputation for irascibility.
In 1977, Imus was ignominiously dismissed by WNBC and dispatched to the relative anonymity of Cleveland. Within two years, though, he turned disaster into triumph, returning to New York and adding a new vice: cocaine. While his career turned around, his first marriage (which produced four daughters) fell apart.
Imus struggled with addiction until a 1987 stint at a Florida alcohol rehabilitation center, coming out just as WNBC became the fledgling all-sports station WFAN — which retained Imus' non-sports show as its morning anchor.
Imus struggled with addiction until a 1987 stint at a Florida alcohol rehabilitation center. He emerged from the facility just as WNBC became the all-sports station WFAN, which retained Imus' non-sports show as its morning anchor
Imus' career again soared. Time Magazine named Imus one of the 25 Most Influential People in America, and he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. His show began simulcasting on cable's MSNBC in September 1996.
In the decade before his 'nappy headed hos' debacle, Imus redefined his show by mixing his comedy segments with A-list guests: politicians (Senators John Kerry and John McCain), journalists (NBC-TV's Tim Russert and The New York Times' Frank Rich, musicians (Harry Connick Jr. and John Mellencamp).
Imus (right) is pictured speaking with the late Senator John McCain and his wife Cindy at a Washington hotel in 1999
A book plug on Imus' show guaranteed sales, and authors were soon queuing up for a slot on the show.
But he rarely missed a chance to get in trouble, even in the good times.
He engaged in a long-running feud with shock jock Howard Stern, who at first was on air with Imus on WNBC, and was even paired with him in a popular television and print advertising campaign.
Both became bitter rivals, with Stern ultimately usurping Imus' position as the No. 1 morning host in New York City.
Imus (second from left) is pictured from his days at WNBC with fellow radio host at the time Howard Stern (second from right)
And he outraged guests at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner in 1996, cracking wise jokes about President Clinton's extramarital activities as the first lady sat stone-faced nearby.
At the height of his career Imus was rivals with fellow shock-jock Howard Stern, who beat him out as No. 1 morning host in New York City, and had no qualms cracking jokes about President Bill Clinton, whom he called a 'pot smoking weasel'.
'We all know you're a pot-smoking weasel,' Imus said at another point about Clinton.
A White House spokesman called Imus' bit 'fairly tasteless'.
One year later, he was sued by a Manhattan judge after ripping the jurist on air as a 'creep' and 'a senile old dirtbag'.
Critics carped over the show's content, with Imus' claim that he was an all-inclusive offender deflecting most complaints — although one show regular was fired in 2005 after a particularly vile crack about cancer-stricken singer Kylie Minogue.
A February 2006 profile in Vanity Fair contained the quote that might best serve as Imus' epitaph.
'I talk to millions of people every day', he said while riding home in a limousine after one show. 'I just like it when they can't talk back'.
Imus remarried in December 1994, to the former Deirdre Coleman. They had one son, Wyatt.
Imus is picture wiht his wife Deirdre, whom he married in December 1994. They had one son, Wyatt. Both were with him at the time of his passing, according to a family statement
“Then nappy headed hoes” will miss you!
Imus the fungus is no longer among us.
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