This Day in Black History: Sept. 27, 1936

Don Cornelius was born on Sept. 27, 1936, in Chicago.

The legendary TV personality Don Cornelius was born in Chicago on Sept. 27, 1936. Before hosting Soul Train, which spent more than 30 years on the air, Cornelius got his start filling in as a substitute DJ and on-air personality at a radio station.

Cornelius later switched from radio to television and became a sports anchor and the host of A Black’s View of the News on WCIU. He soon pitched the idea for a music television show catered to African-American artists to the station.

With $400 of his own money, Cornelius created the pilot for Soul Train, which was inspired by Dick Clark's American Bandstand. The show premiered on Aug. 17, 1970, and became nationally syndicated the following the year. During its 35-year run, R&B acts such as The Jackson 5, Aretha Franklin and Usher were featured on the show. 

On Feb. 1, 2012, Cornelius died at the age of 75. He suffered a gunshot wound to the head that officials stated was self-inflicted. Cornelius is survived by two sons, Anthony and Raymond.
BET National News - Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter. 

(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.