United States radio personality, television host, and philanthropist Don Imus, known to fans as the I-Man, died on Friday at the Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas after being hospitalized since Christmas Eve, his family reported. Associated Press reported his cause of death as complications from lung disease. He was 79.
Imus’ syndicated radio show Imus in the Morning aired on various networks from 1968 until his retirement in 2018. The show was simulcast on MSNBC television from 1996 until a racial incident in 2007 and for several years up to 2015 on the Fox Business Network. He was once named one of Time‘s 25 most influential Americans, and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Known as a shock jock who made controversial comments, Imus was dropped in 2007 by MSNBC and CBS Radio after he referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hos.” He later apologized for the comment.
Imus is survived by his second wife Dierdre Coleman, their two sons Wyatt and Zachary, and four daughters, Nadine, Ashley, Elizabeth, and Toni, from his previous marriage.
The family’s statement on the death read: “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 (Cates), 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”.
Longtime Imus in the Morning writer and performer Rob Bartlett tweeted: “He was a rebel, an unapologetic decrier of bullshit, a harsh critic of human behavior & yet an unfailing champion of the underdog, especially sick children. A hermit and humanitarian. Brilliant and maddening & someone you loved to hate and hated to love but when you told him you did he’d say you were a phony. Every professional success I’ve enjoyed is a direct result of my association with the I-Man. I‘m beyond grateful to him for being my boss, my mentor, & my friend. My heart breaks for Deirdre, Wyatt & Zach. Rest easy Cowboy. You’ve earned it.”
The account for The Bernie and Sid Show, which replaced Imus in the Morning, hosted by Bernard McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg, who both worked for Imus, tweeted: “I-Man. We salute you. You paved the way for us and many more. A radio legend indeed. RIP #Imus”.
As of today, former coworker and long time rival shock jock Howard Stern, with whom Imus feuded, has not commented on the death on his Twitter account. However, earlier this year, Stern said in an interview with Rolling Stone he was open to having Imus as a guest on his show.
The family said they planned to have a private funeral service for Imus and asked for donations to the Imus Ranch Foundation, which provides support for families with children suffering from serious diseases.
- @HowardStern on Twitter. “Howard Stern” — Twitter, December 30, 2019 (accessed)
- David Bauder. “DJ Don Imus, made and betrayed by his mouth, dead at 79” — Associated Press, December 28, 2019
- Rob Bartlett Radio Comedy Hour. “@TheRobio on Twitter” — Twitter, December 28, 2019
- Bernie & Sid in the Morning. “@bernieandsid on Twitter” — Twitter, December 27, 2019
- William Mansell. “Controversial former radio host Don Imus dead at age 79” — ABC News (United States), December 27, 2019
- Andrea Mandell and Bill Keveney. “Legendary radio host Don Imus dies at age 79 after being hospitalized since Christmas Eve” — USA Today, December 27, 2019
- Andy Greene. “A Softer Side of Howard Stern” — Rolling Stone, May 22, 2019