Casey Kasem wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in L.A. because he felt that was his path to reincarnation ... this according to his longtime friend and security guard.
Rick Hernandez says he worked as the Executive Security Officer for Casey and his family for years, and became one of the famed DJ's closest friends.
Hernandez wrote a letter to the judge in the case Casey's daughter filed to bring her dad's body back from Norway, where it's been rotting since August.
Hernandez says in the letter ... one day he asked Casey if he believed in God or the afterlife. He says Casey responded ... he believed in reincarnation. Hernandez asked if he planned to be cremated or buried, and Kasem responded that he wanted to be buried and specified Forest Lawn.
The letter wasn't enough to sway the judge, who ruled Kerri had no authority to undermine Casey's wife Jean, who has kept the body in a Norway mortuary for 3 months.
Dead at 78
11/23/2014 4:14 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry -- who became nationally famous after an epic cocaine bust that did not derail his career -- died Sunday morning at 78.
Barry served 4 terms as Mayor, but his defining moment for most people is what he did in a hotel room during his tenure ... smoking crack with a young woman, and as FBI barged in the room screaming, "She set me up!"
Barry -- who was a folk hero in D.C. -- became the butt of jokes and almost a staple punchline on shows like "SNL."
But after serving time for drug possession, he became mayor once again.
Barry became a paradigm of politicians … how they could do wrong, yet still remain popular with the electorate.
Cause of death has not been disclosed.
G.R.L. Singer Simone Battle
I Died, But My Sony Deal Lives On
11/23/2014 12:35 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
G.R.L. singer Simone Battle had just a few thousand dollars to her name when she committed suicide ... but her family claims there could be much more pouring in ... from lucrative contracts she signed shortly before her death.
Battle had just $6,000 in cash to her name when she died, according to court docs filed by her mother, Donna Morgan. But Morgan claims Battle also had deals with Sony, Coca-Cola and other companies and the estate will be getting lots of money from the deals.
Here's the problem ... Sony, Coke and the others won't give Morgan the contracts unless she's appointed administrator of Simone's estate. So she's applied, and her petition is pending.
TMZ broke the story ... Battle hanged herself in her bedroom Sept. 5th. Friends and family said she may have been depressed over money problems.
Dead at 83
11/20/2014 5:11 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Mike Nichols -- the legendary director who won the Oscar in 1968 for the classic film "The Graduate" -- died suddenly on Wednesday night. He was 83.
Nichols -- who was married to Diane Sawyer for the last 26 years -- is one of the few people to have won an Emmy, a Tony, a Grammy and an Oscar. His best known films include "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "Working Girl," "Silkwood" and "The Birdcage."
Nichols was also a prolific stage director, having helmed Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park," "The Odd Couple," and Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" ... just two years ago. He also directed the critically acclaimed HBO miniseries "Angels in America."
Nichols is survived by three children and four grandchildren.
My Husband is Rotting
Because Of His Kid
11/20/2014 12:10 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Casey Kasem is rotting in Norway because of his own flesh and blood -- his daughter -- so claims Casey's widow, who has gone to court so she can put Casey in his place for good.
TMZ first reported ... Casey's remains have been stagnating in Oslo for 3 months, and he's been dead for 5. Kerri filed legal docs recently asking for an order allowing her to bring the body of her father back to the U.S. for an autopsy -- something the LAPD wants for its elder abuse probe targeting Jean.
Now Jean has fired back saying Kerri is the obstructionist that is preventing a proper burial.
Problem is ... Jean's argument makes no sense. She's fighting Kerri on the one hand, saying Kerri's U.S. lawsuit is BS because our courts can't force Norway to do anything, yet on the other hand she seems to be saying Kerri's lawsuit is preventing Casey's burial. She can't have it both ways.
Kerri thinks Jean is full of it and the reason she's dragging her feet is so the body decays to the point the Coroner won't be able to pin the blame on her for the infection that led to his death.
Motown Legend Dead At 78
11/19/2014 12:07 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Jimmy Ruffin, the crooner who was a staple in Motown for decades, has passed away at the age of 78.
Ruffin reached legendary Motown status in 1966 with his hit "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" ... and had incredible staying power, hitting the Top 10 yet again with "Hold On To My Love" in 1980.
Ruffin's family ties were just as impressive ... his younger brother, David Ruffin, was the lead singer of The Temptations. David was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
Ruffin's 2 kids -- Philicia and Jimmy Lee -- confirmed that he passed Monday at his home in Las Vegas.
Russell Armstrong's Father
Gets Death Pics
To Satisfy Foul Play Suspicions
11/19/2014 12:50 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The father of the late "Real Housewives" star Russell Armstrong will finally get photographic evidence to answer the question he's been asking for 3 years ... "Was my son murdered?"
The L.A. County Coroner has agreed to turn over pics, negatives, videos and X-rays to Louie Armstrong and his lawyers ... provided they keep the evidence under wraps.
The elder Armstrong has never believed his son took his own life. Russell was in financial straits -- owing a ton of money to business associates -- so when Armstrong was found hanging from an electrical cord Aug. 15, 2011, his dad immediately suspected foul play.
The Coroner ruled the death a suicide.
Enlarged Heart Killed Him
11/18/2014 8:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
"American Idol" singer Michael Johns died from an enlarged heart, but a "fatty liver" contributed to his death ... this according to the Coroner's report.
The 35-year-old singer died suddenly Aug. 1 after his leg became swollen and bruised ... reportedly from a sprained ankle. Family sources claimed the injury had triggered a blood clot, but his best friend claimed the singer drank himself to death.
The Orange County Coroner's report concludes Johns died of natural causes -- the result of a disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that inhibits the flow of blood to the body. The disease caused his heart to enlarge.
As for the "fatty liver" ... it can be caused by excessive alcohol intake, but there are other causes as well. Law enforcement told us ... Johns often drank to excess and did so hours before he died.
Lifetime Deserves the Heat
For Crappy Aaliyah Biopic
11/16/2014 10:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Timbaland clearly thinks Lifetime deserves every ounce of crap being flung their way for the Aaliyah biopic that premiered Saturday ... and during his attack on the network, no digital punches were pulled.
The rapper/producer went on a social media rampage last night urging people to boycott the "Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B"... using a slew of hilarious memes.
Once the movie was over -- Timbo had no problem gloating to fans who watched the flick anyway -- taunting them and the network with a funny video post.
Timbaland wasn't the only celebrity who had choice words for the movie ... DL Hughley also chimed in -- saying, "Aaliyah is the Soul Plane of Lifetime!"
'Magnum P.I.' Creator
Glen A. Larson Dies
At 77 From Cancer
11/15/2014 12:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Glen A. Larson -- who created the hit shows "Magnum P.I.", "Knight Rider" and "Quincy M.E." -- has died from esophageal cancer at the age of 77.
The incredibly successful writer died Friday night at UCLA Medical Center ... according to his son James.
Larson was one of the most prolific producers of the '70s and '80s ... creating a string of iconic hit shows -- including "Battlestar Galactica," "The Fall Guy," "B.J. and the Bear," and "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century."
He also wrote the original "Six Million Dollar Man" pilot and TV movies.
In case you're wondering ... Quincy, Magnum, Rider and Fall Guy alone account for 513 hours of television -- as well as 21 combined seasons from 1976-88.
Safe to say this guy helped define an entire generation of TV watchers.
'The Challenge' Star Theo Von
I Hope Diem Brown Sleeps With Angels
11/15/2014 10:25 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
"The Challenge" star Theo Von says his former co-star Diem Brown was the bravest person to ever appear on the show ... and he's praying she's in a better place now.
As we previously reported ... Brown died this week after a long battle with cancer -- and Theo told our camera guy he's already checked in with show producers about her memorial.
The reality star also went into detail about how inspirational Diem was ... and says she always put life into perspective for him.
'Choose Your Own Adventure'
Dead at 78
11/14/2014 9:21 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Author R.A. Montgomery -- founder of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series -- has died.
If you'd like to know more about his death ... go to paragraph 2.
If you'd like to learn the author's history ... go to paragraph 3.
Montgomery passed away at his home in Vermont last Sunday. His family hasn't released the cause of death.
The author created the series in the '70s and more than 200 "CYOA" titles were eventually published. It's one of the best selling children's book series of all time.
If you'd like to give your condolences ... go to the comments section.
If you'd like to tell your friends ... share the story on social media.
MTV Star Diem Brown
Cancer at 32
11/14/2014 8:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
"Real World/Road Rules Challenge" star Diem Brown has died after a long battle with cancer.
Diem -- who found out she had ovarian cancer 3 weeks before her first appearance on MTV in 2006 -- was reportedly surrounded by family this week in a New York hospital as her condition worsened.
Back in August, the reality star collapsed on set while filming "The Challenge" ... then announced she had been diagnosed with stomach and colon cancer. It eventually spread to her liver and lymph nodes as well.
Diem founded MedGift ... a support registry for other people battling illness.
One of her most inspirational moments on MTV came when she took off a wig to reveal her hair loss due to chemotherapy.
Diem was 32.