NEW YORK — Joseph Brooks, the Academy Award-winning songwriter of "You Light Up My Life" who was awaiting trial for rape, was found dead Sunday of an apparent suicide in his Manhattan apartment, police said.
Brooks, 73, was discovered in his Upper East Side apartment around 12:30 p.m. by a friend with whom he had planned to have lunch, police spokesman Paul Browne said.
Brooks was found on the living room couch with a plastic dry-cleaning bag around his head and a towel wrapped around his neck, Browne said. A hose attached to a helium tank was hooked up to the bag, he said. It was not immediately clear how long Brooks had been there.
The apartment door was ajar, Browne said.
The medical examiner will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Police said a suicide note was found but they didn't reveal its contents.
Brooks was awaiting trial on allegations that he molested women who were lured to his apartment for supposed acting auditions. He pleaded not guilty to rape and other charges.
Now, I'm no doctor, or medical examiner, but I do take medicine and read The Examiner. But - just tossing out one possible scenario here - perhaps, just maybe, the cause of death had something to do with his being on the living room couch with a plastic dry-cleaning bag around his head and a towel wrapped around his neck, and a hose attached to a helium tank hooked up to the bag. Whaddya say, Columbo?
Someone just mentioned that You Light Up My Life song the other day at work and I mentioned it as one of the leading memories that I carry from the fall of 1977. I was still a DJ then, and having to play that execrable piece of schlock day after day- sung by Debby Boone - was no easy thing to do. And it stayed #1 on Billboard for ten of the longest weeks of my life. Not even the corniest oldies station would touch that song today, for fear of driving listeners into some sort of frenzy, making them predict a rapture.
Not to jump on the dead, but the story always was that Brooks was a scheming angle-player who wrote the song just with the goal of milking tear ducts all across the nation. He later wrote a movie of the same name, and produced the movie, but to far less success than the Boone record. Didi Conn was in the picture, as I recall, but fortunately her career survived long enough for her to play Frenchy in "Grease." Brooks then wrote another movie and had himself play the lead. This one was called "If Ever I See You Again."
You won't be seeing Brooks again. Again, he was not convicted; in fact, his trial had yet to occur when he did himself in, but this was not some simple misunderstanding of affections. At the age of 73, he was facing trial on 82 counts of sexual abuse for allegedly raping 11 young actresses. He would get these women to come to his Upper East Side residence by saying he wanted to audition them for screen roles.
Then he allegedly gave them doped wine to drink "as part of the audition" and proceeded from there, allegedly.
I mean, it all could be a merry mixup, and maybe these 11 young women got together and concocted 82 stories and went to the police because...yeah. I know. He had enough talent to write that song, which was at its time the longest-running chart topper in Billboard. But he did his disgusting debauchery and then chose to check out early rather than defend himself.
To have a talent, and to waste it, and to have a life, and to taint it with iniquitous behavior and throw it all away, is beyond me. I still grieve for people who would have given anything for another day to live their good, pure, sweet lives, and to see what this mountebank did with his...
You know what I mean.