Don Cornelius: An Icon of Soul

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Don Cornelius.  (credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Don Cornelius. (credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/WPGC) — “I’m Don Cornelius and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul.”

Those words, said in an iconic style, closed the groundbreaking variety show Soul Train countless times.

Don Cornelius was born on the south side of Chicago on Sept. 27, 1936.

Following high school he enlisted in the United State Marine Corps where he served 18 months in Korea.

He floundered a bit after leaving the service, but would find his stride in 1966 when he landed a job as a disc jockey at radio station WVON. In 1967, he got his break on television, setting the stage for his life to change forever.

In 1970, Cornelius launched Soul Train in the Chicago market. One year later the show was nationally syndicated and uprooted to Los Angeles, where it cast a light on soul music like never before.

The show quickly became the spot for artists to showcase their talents who felt it was a sign they finally made it.

Cornelius would serve as host of the program until 1993. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2012.

The show remained in production until 2006 with more than 1,100 episodes having been produced.

Following a 35-year run, Soul Train is still officially the longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history.

Check back all month for WPGC’s tribute to Black History Month.

All-News 99.1 WNEW’s Cheryl Simone contributed to this report


Today’s Icon sponsored by DC Lottery, the home of the Soul Train Scratcher!
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