February 8th, 2012
11:16 AM ET

Tony Cornelius: I don't think my dad knew how much he was loved

[Editor's Note: "Showbiz Tonight's" interview with Tony Cornelius will air tonight at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on HLN.]

Don Cornelius' death last week has been ruled a suicide, and the "Soul Train" legend's son Tony tells "Showbiz Tonight" that he never saw an indication that his father was capable of taking his own life.

"Not at all. I mean...we all have disappointments, we all go through things, [and] when the lights go down, all you have is family," Tony says. "There weren't any indications, other than his health was failing a bit. Nothing that would make me say, you know, that he would want to end his life this way. It's hard to believe."

When Don Cornelius died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound last Wednesday, several entertainment icons mourned the loss of a man who contributed so much, on top of the outpouring of grief from friends and fans.

"Sometimes I wonder, if he could come back here and if he were to know how people felt about him would he...would he make that move?" Tony says in the interview. "I mean, but again, when you're in that kind of darkness, it's really hard to tell, but people really loved him."

Sadly, it's something Tony says he's not sure his father was aware of.

"I'm pretty sure he didn't realize [that]," he says. "I think he spent his entire life trying to be someone, trying to be the best. It's hard to know if that's true, if you have succeeded. I think he was driven by trying to be the best, and in doing so, it's really hard to know how people really feel about you."

Watch Showbiz Tonight Weekdays Exclusively at 11PM ET on HLN.


soundoff (58 Responses)
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    August 25, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sly Sadie

    So typical of your race. Respond to a little harmless name calling with violence. What's next? Are you going to do a drive-by past Jimmy's grandma's house to gun down his granma and pa? And, I believe you mean "Cretin." Get an education.

    February 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AustinGirl

    this is for Jimmy, Black Americans love racists cowards like you. Why don't you get up some courage and tell a bunch of black teenagers, youo know the ones that wear their pants sagging to "get to the back of the bus" all by your sick lonesome self and see what they do to you. Cowards like you and there are a lot of you are sad, you teach this sickness to your children and subject them to being called ignorant by Americans. Wise up Jimmy, I don't care how you feel, but your ignorance is showing you credent.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sly Sadie

    CNN Readers: Hey Tony Cornelius, we don't think you know how much we don't give a sh!t. All I remember about this annoying show was how it came on right after Saturday Night Live. I would see all the brown people, get disgusted, and shut the TV off immediately!

    February 9, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
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      April 26, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Aunt Peg

    Disgusting? Racist show was disgusting!

    February 9, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Aunt Peg's Better Half

      Really? What do you think American Bandstand was? Open to ALL before pressure was put on them to actually open it to all?

      And re: your first comment: EWWWW....more w***e trash!

      February 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jim in Georgia

    I wonder why they even have comments here.
    I only hope that no one in his family read this tripe...
    Disgusting!

    February 9, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Pablo

      I agree. I think the intention of the comments section is good so that people have a forum to discuss the article, but there are so many abusers who use the cowardice of hiding behind a screen to express their idiotic, junvenile, and racist views that have little or nothing to do with the topic that it's become a frustrating, if not useless, exercise. I wouldn't blame CNN if they did away with comments altogether.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. tcaros

    I don't know why at 75 you would kill yourself. You made it that far and what's the use anyway.
    The aveage life expectancy for males is 76-79.

    February 9, 2012 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Pablo

      Maybe because when you're in that state the thought of even one more day is too much.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. augustghost

    I didn't love him...most white people didn't

    February 9, 2012 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
    • BCC

      OK august but why bring race into it at all and how do you speak for most white people?

      February 9, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Pablo

      Speak for yourself–how do you know how most white people felt? I, for one, thought he was awesome, especially back in the early days. I looked up to this guy. He was audacious and cool, smooth and in your face all at the same time.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ann

    I had a dream once where I passed to the other side. At the first stop, I could see those still living and I remember distinctly wanting to tell them to stop and "smell the roses" and to enjoy each day and to especially enjoy and love their families and friends. You could see how everybody was in such a great hurry and I remember thinking we are fooled into believing that we need to be in that kind of rush. I do believe if we expressed our love and concern more to those who truly count in our lives, we could do so much good while we have time here.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
  16. Jeff

    RIP Cornelius. Bet God is dancing down the line with his angels!

    February 8, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Viola

    Some feel oh so powerful with the hate/racism published from behind a screen. As much as it turns my stomach to read the hate, I do not wish those ill will and I will not respond in kind. However, I will point out that
    courage is not about a lack of fear (when posting with anonymity), it's about doing whats right in spite of that fear (anonymity).
    Don was some cool cat. To Tony and all the rest of the Cornelius clan Peace, Love and Soul xoxox

    February 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Aunt Peg

    EWWWW! More brown people!

    February 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Ramona

    Attn: jimmy, you are a racist pig!

    February 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Raq

    Wow!! The insane things people say on these blogs are totally ridiculous & have nothing to do with the content that was written. How would you feel if that had been someone you loved/cared about? You may never know Who is reading your words & note your total lack of compassion for their grief. Sad, very Sad!

    February 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Guilla

    Some of these comments just make no sense whatsoever.l

    February 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  22. tracie

    I was that white girl. I love black butt h@le. I had bed times with cornelius and licked his butt. He sat on my face for three hours

    February 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  23. BENN

    He was a good guy that brought happiness to alot of people. He gave hope to those without much hope. He made the world a better place and will be missed by all. Thank you that there was and is a Don Cornelius in our lives. The hope, kindness, and the help he gave others will last forever.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Bill

    Peace, Love and Sooouuullll, Don. He started some great artists!

    February 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  25. tyrell

    Still it was a happy show. When you are really young and it is saturday morning everything is happy. Especially if you had a pop tart in your hand and knew Star Trek reruns would be on soon !

    February 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  26. tyrell

    Plus the Issac Hayes black moses thing. That was a little insulting to the african american community.

    February 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  27. tim

    Someetimes they would have George Clinton and Parliment Funkadellic as guest. They would all dress up like zulus and headhunters and cannibals. It was funny, but kind of embarissing. If I was a black guy it woulda made me mad. They seemed to like it though.

    February 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  28. jimmy

    Remember every once in a while they would have a white hippy looking girl on there dancing with all the j!ggs. I remember thinking I bet her mom and dad sure are proud of her up there dancing with them sweaty smelly monkeys.

    February 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • R...T...

      Wow...

      February 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • lol

      That white girl dancing with the fine black brothers...oh, that was your Mom!

      February 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hilarious

      Yeah, like I bet your parents were trying to figure out a way of shoving you back up your mother's @ss when they saw what they had.

      February 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramona

      Jimmy you have shown everyone that you are a RACIST PIG!!!!

      February 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramona

      You are an ignorant prejudiced person who should have been aborted!

      February 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • V

      You've been reported little Jimmy!

      February 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      There has to be people in the world like you so that Psychiatrists can study the difference between normal and abnormal. You belong in a laboratory cage to be experimented on instead of innocent monkeys.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      He's just a troll trying to get a response from all of you. It worked.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
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    February 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Octavius Jones

    Back in the day I met him at the Churchs Fried Chicken on MLK Blvd. Thats when he was still fryin up the necks and wings. Before he made the big time. We sat around and talked about the situation of us black people in america. That was some fiiiiiiiiiine chicken.

    February 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Octavius Jones

    I liked his name. Not as cool as mine but still afrocentric. BLACK POWER !

    February 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  32. tracie

    Had anybody here ever licked his butt h@le? I want to. I love chocolate diamonds.

    February 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  33. tracie

    I better get it up my butt tonight. I love tongue punching my husbands buttt h@le!

    February 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramona

      You have no class, you should never leave your trailer!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  34. ChileGirl

    Sadly, we are NOT mind readers. If you don't keep in contact and tell people you love them, they feel forgotten. This is something that all too frequently get lost in the day to day hustle, particularly as we get older. Pick up the phone, send an email or, *gasp*, write a letter and let that person know that you love them and honor them. You might save a life...

    February 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • archie

      yes, beautiful words. So true!

      February 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      Very well said Chile Girl. Too many people today are feeling very alone because their grown children don't visit or call. Their friends moved away or passed away, or they have no family at all. I know people who have committed suicide or who made themselves sick and died from depression.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sonel

      ChileGirl, you took the words right out of my mouth....the simple does comfound the wise...
      I've always believed in "giving people their flowers while they live". It kept me in perfect
      peace when my sister died at the age of 41. I knew I had loved on her while she was
      here. Put down all your gadgets and pick up the phone and say hello!

      February 9, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • MattinDC

      I once loved a girl from Chile....her name was Nancy.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |

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