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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Country Music Legend Johnny Cash Dies; Actor John Ritter Dead

Aired September 12, 2003 - 06:02   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I know you just heard me tell people that Johnny Cash has died, 71 years old. We knew he was in ill health.
But also, earlier this morning, we'd heard that John Ritter died. He was just 54 years old.

We want to talk about both deaths right now with entertainment reporter, Kendis Gibson.

Johnny Cash.

KENDIS GIBSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this just crossing within the last half hour or 20 minutes or so.

COSTELLO: Yes.

GIBSON: What an amazing day in the entertainment world. The news coming that Johnny Cash died at a Nashville hospital this morning, or at least we got the word in this morning that he died at the age of 71.

As you know, he just came out of the hospital on Tuesday. He was in the hospital for a stomach condition, and his publicist says that he was doing fine when he came out, and he was planning to go to Los Angeles next week to continue recording his album. But, of course, now that's not going to happen.

COSTELLO: He's been in terrible health lately.

GIBSON: He has been.

COSTELLO: In fact, we just confirmed, I think, he died officially from complications of diabetes, but he had other problems as well.

GIBSON: He had several other problems. And, of course, you may recall that his wife, June Carter Cash, died just this past May, and at that time Johnny Cash said that was the love of his life and he wasn't sure exactly how he could go on.

And it's funny, though, that this comes at this time, considering this sort of resurgence in popularity that Johnny Cash has received recently, six nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards. He even won one for his video for "Hurt." So, it's really interesting.

COSTELLO: Which was about -- I know it was shot at his wife's home in Virginia, right?

GIBSON: Yes. Yes, it was.

COSTELLO: It's just a sad story.

GIBSON: And it was a tribute, and many of the songs, we were told, for his next album are in tribute to his wife. So, it's really sad -- 71 years old.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about John Ritter now, just 54 years old. Was he on the set, do we know, of his ABC sitcom when he collapsed?

GIBSON: What we're told right now is that he had just wrapped up taping an episode for "8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter" when he had what appeared to be a massive heart attack, or doctors are still trying to figure out exactly what the exact reason was.

COSTELLO: Yes, I'm going to find a press release here.

GIBSON: But...

COSTELLO: Because it says -- this is from the public relations department of John Ritter: "The cause of death was a dissection of the aorta, which results from an unrecognized flaw in the aorta."

And the condition supposedly is undetectable.

GIBSON: Yes.

COSTELLO: So, I don't know really what that means.

GIBSON: Exactly.

COSTELLO: We're going to have to get Dr. Sanjay Gupta later to tell us.

GIBSON: The initial reports were that he had a heart attack, but maybe the symptoms looked like that initially to folks who don't really know. But apparently, he was on the set of his ABC sitcom, which really has been a surprisingly successful sitcom for ABC, and...

COSTELLO: It actually is the centerpiece of their -- I don't know what night it's on, but...

GIBSON: Their Friday night campaign. They were coming back with thank God it's Friday once again, and this is their centerpiece of the return to that. So, really a sad blow for ABC and for many John Ritter fans. Of course, he's known best from "Three's Company," but he's been on TV throughout the years. Do you remember Hooperman?

COSTELLO: Oh, yes.

GIBSON: Way back in 1987 I think, he was there, so...

COSTELLO: Yes, he's made big-time movies, too, in which he was really good. GIBSON: Yes, indeed.

COSTELLO: Yes.

GIBSON: So, he has won a number of Golden Globe nominations, Emmy nominations. He won a Golden Globe for -- or he won an Emmy, rather, for his role back in 1984 as Jack in...

COSTELLO: In "Three's Company?"

GIBSON: ... "Three's Company."

COSTELLO: Yes, all right.

GIBSON: So, it's a really sad day in entertainment.

COSTELLO: OK.

We have some more information on Johnny Cash. Where are we going again? From where? From the Baptist Hospital in Nashville? All right.

Nicole Bates (ph) is on the line with us right now.

Nicole (ph), good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning.

COSTELLO: What can you tell us?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Country music legend Johnny Cash died at Baptist Hospital at 2:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time.

COSTELLO: And what did he die of?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Johnny died due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure.

COSTELLO: Wasn't he just sent home from that same hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This statement that we have right now is all of the information that we're allowed to release at this time. He was here earlier, and he was sent home earlier this week.

COSTELLO: And how did he seem when he was sent home, do you know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He actually seemed in good spirits. He was sent home to just rest and recover.

COSTELLO: And do you know what happened while he was at home? Did he have a sudden relapse? Did he collapse?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We actually can't release anymore information than that. It's just that he did die due to complications from diabetes. COSTELLO: And he was 71 years old. Was anyone with him in the hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family was with him.

COSTELLO: So, his family with surrounding him and...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His family was there.

COSTELLO: All right. Thank you very much, Nicole Bates (ph) from a Nashville hospital reporting on Johnny Cash this morning.

Johnny Cash dead at the age of 71.

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