Posted at 08:58 AM ET, 05/23/2011

Joseph Brooks, Oscar-winning songwriter, found dead of an apparent suicide


Oscar-winning songwriter Joseph Brooks is shown in New York June 23, 2009. (Louis Lanzano - AP)
Joseph Brooks, the Academy Award-winning songwriter of the ballad “You Light Up My Life,” was found dead Sunday, an apparent suicide, in his Manhattan apartment.

Brooks was discovered slumped over on a couch in the den of his Upper East Side apartment by a friend with whom he planned to have lunch. His head was wrapped in a plastic bag, which was connected to a tube from a nearby helium tank.

He left a rambling, three-page suicide note behind.

Brooks’ life had spiralled in recent years as his health deteriorated, sex charges against him piled up, and his son was charged with murder.

At 73, Brooks was awaiting trial on charges of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women. Prosecutors say he lured aspiring actresses to his apartment on the promise that he was casting them for a role, made them drink drugged wine as part of an “acting exercise,” and then sexually assaulted them.

Five months ago, his 24-year-old son was arrested and charged with strangling his fashion designer girlfriend to death in a a bathtub in a swanky hotel in New York. Father and son had little contact with one another in recent years.

In 2008, Brooks had suffered a stroke and his health had deteriorated ever since. He appeared gaunt and worn at recent trial dates.

Brooks’s Academy Award-winning “You Light My Life” was the title song in a 1977 film about a young singer with dreams of stardom. Listening to that song now is haunting:

By  |  08:58 AM ET, 05/23/2011

 
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