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Legendary radio host Don Imus dies at 79

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The pioneering talent was known both for his ability to cause a stir and for his giving

Don Imus (mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images))

Radio host Don Imus has passed away at the age of 79, leaving behind a legacy of humor, controversy, and philanthropy over his decades as host of "Imus in the Morning."

What are the details?

Imus died Friday morning at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station Texas, after being admitted to the hospital on Christmas Eve, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Tributes quickly poured in to honor Imus, who was known as a pioneering "shock jock" radio personality who hosted the biggest names in politics, media and celebrity during his tenure on air. His widely-popular morning show was listened to by millions each day.

"I'm heartbroken," radio and Fox News television host Sean Hannity wrote on Twitter. "I knew the REAL Don Imus. Imus adored his wife and son and his adopted son and had a heart of gold. The work he did for children with cancer will live on forever."

Laura Ingraham, also a Fox News host, wrote, "In his heyday Imus was the best interviewer—an epic talent. Many great on-air memories in his Astoria studios, and (sorry, haters) responsible for my 17-year radio career."

"Imus in the Morning" debuted on New York's WNBC-AM in 1971, but Imus was fired from CBS Radio and MSNBC in 2007 following widespread outcry after he referred to Rutgers University's mostly-black women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos."

The comment followed him the rest of his career, despite his repeated apologies. The day of his death, The Huffington Post's headline referred to him as a "racist" because of his remark from more than a decade ago.

After Imus' removal from MSNBC, his spot was filled in by "Morning Joe," hosted by former congressman Joe Scarborough, a Republican at the time. Scarborough tweeted Friday, ""Morning Joe' obviously owes its format to Don Imus. No one else could have gotten away with that much talk on cable news. Thanks for everything, Don, and Godspeed."

In 2009 Imus' show moved to the Fox Business Network, where it remained until 2016. The host retired last year.

The New York Times noted that Imus raised "millions for the rehabilitation of wounded veterans of the Iraq war and for children with cancer and sibling of victims of sudden infant death syndrome. Since 1999, many of these children had spent summer on his ranch near Ribera, N.M."

Don Imus is survived by his wife, Deidre, and children Wyatt, Lt. Zachary Don Cates, Nadine, Ashley, Elizabeth and Toni.

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