Don Cornelius' Son Got 'Urgent' Call From Father

CBS News

Don Cornelius' son Tony is speaking out about his father's death and says he received a "call of urgency" from his dad on the day of his apparent suicide.

Tony, who worked with his father on Soul Train and other projects, spoke to CBS This Morning host Gayle King about the last conversation he had with his father. "It was a call of urgency, and I came to his home immediately," he said, without elaborating further. Tony also revealed that his father had recently been "unhappy about some things" in his life and that "his health was failing."

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"My father was extremely private and unfortunately, when you're a private person, you keep things inside," Tony said. "You know, it's hard to imagine that you would -- how you feel. You have to be in a person's shoes really to understand. Obviously, me being extremely close to him, I could tell that he was uncomfortable. But our family could never know that he would -- how uncomfortable he really was."

Tony told King that his father taught him everything he knows about the TV production business and would want to be remembered as someone who worked hard and was also professional.

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"(My father) wanted to make a statement. I think he really worked
extremely hard to make sure that he presented a project that people
could really enjoy. ... I think his legacy would be that he really
worked on the fine points. I mean, he's always taught me about it's the
fine points that count and he wanted to achieve quality. He wanted to
expose the masses to a new way of looking at black-oriented television.
And he just worked really hard to make that happen."

Tony also released this public statement Thursday regarding the passing of his father: "The family is saddened as we mourn the loss of Don Cornelius. At this time, we respectfully ask that you allow our family and friends the privacy necessary to get through this difficult time. We thank all the well-wishers and the fans who have supported the Soul Train legacy. Love, Peace and Soul."