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Tracy Morgan Accident

Driver in Fatal Crash

Pleads Not Guilty

6/11/2014 1:16 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0611-kevin-roper-splash-01Kevin Roper -- the truck driver facing charges over the fatal crash that involved Tracy Morgan -- pled not guilty in a New Brunswick court this afternoon.

Roper is facing charges of death by auto and assault by auto. His bail was set at $50,000.

Roper was driving a truck for Walmart on Saturday when he struck Morgan's limo. One person died as a result and Morgan is still in the hospital in critical condition.  

Roper has not only maintained his innocence ... he says he's a scapegoat because a celeb was involved.  He says this was simply an accident.

Tracy Morgan Trucker

I Was Not Drunk or High

I'm a Scapegoat!

6/10/2014 6:08 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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The trucker who caused the fatal car crash that left Tracy Morgan in critical condition says he was not high on drugs or drunk when he slammed into the SUV ... and believes he's being skewered because a celeb was hurt in the accident.

A twitter account which appears to be Walmart trucker Kevin Roper was very active early Tuesday morning ... with a remorseful Roper saying, "I wish it was me and I can't express how horrible I feel."

Roper also denies reports he hadn't slept for 24 hours, claiming the bad press is all about finding a scapegoat, as he says, "because a famous person was involved." He wrote, "I was never charged at the scene of the accident because once again i was not guilty of any crime. Not until all the TV cameras came."

Roper seems to say he was not negligent and therefore not responsible for the crash, suggesting he was not at fault.

Roper concluded his tweets, writing, "So yes i am now most likely f****d because i had an unfortunate ACCIDENT with the wrong car that night."

Lisa Robin Kelly

Rehab Center Killed My Wife

... Claims Husband

6/10/2014 6:56 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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"That 70s Show" star Lisa Robin Kelly was killed by lousy treatment and an incompetent staff at the rehab center where she was found dead ... according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the late actress' husband.

Robert Gilliam is suing Pax House in Altadena, CA claiming Kelly's "treatment and care were improperly administered" ... and that she was neglected for "an unreasonable amount of time" by workers who weren't fit for the job.

TMZ broke the story ... Kelly died Aug. 15, three days after she was admitted to Pax House. The coroner ruled it an accidental death from multiple drug intoxication -- but never identified which specific drugs were in her system.

Gilliam claims in court docs -- obtained by TMZ -- Kelly was last seen alive by Pax workers sometime during the night of Aug. 14 ... and it wasn't until several hours later that she was discovered dead in her room.

He says his wife's death has caused him loss of love, affection, comfort ... and financial support.

'Drop Dead Fred' Star

Sudden and Mysterious Death at 56

6/9/2014 8:25 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Details

Rik Mayall DeadThe guy who played "Drop Dead Fred" in the 90s cult classic film passed away at home in England this morning ... and, so far, the cause of death is a mystery to his family.

Rik Mayall -- a huge comedic star in the U.K. -- was at home with family members when he died this morning ... but his rep says they're all puzzled about why it happened. 

We're told the actor -- who was only 56 -- was not ill ... but his rep added they don't suspect foul play.

"Drop Dead Fred" was bashed by critics, but still became a financial success. Mayall was never able to score a second hit in the U.S. -- even though he's a big deal across the pond. He starred in several successful sitcoms there.

Mayall was married with 3 children.

'Cali Swag District' Rapper

Dead at 25

6/7/2014 6:44 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0607-caliswag-01JayAre from the rap group Cali Swag District died Friday ... the result of sickle cell anemia according to one of the guys in the group.

Jay suffered from sickle cell anemia and was hospitalized Thursday for unknown reasons, this according to MTV,    Hours later he went into into cardiac arrest and died.

General Da Smoove -- another member of CSD -- tweeted last night, "Sickle cell took my brother away from me today."

Smoove adds, "With that being said I'm proud to know that with that disease he made the best of his life ... I jus(sp) saw my bro literally fight for his life I told him 'I love you bro' hope'n he heard me."

Sadly, Jay is not the first member of Cali Swag to die ... in 2011, CSD member M-Bone was murdered in a drive-by shooting.

JayAre was 25.

Ann B. Davis 911 Call

'She's Down and Incoherent'

6/5/2014 11:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Ann B Davis 911 Call
The man who called 911 for "Brady Bunch" star Ann B. Davis pleaded with dispatchers to send "someone quickly" after the fall that eventually led to her death ... this according to a 911 tape obtained by TMZ.

As TMZ first reported, Davis passed away on Sunday after she hit her head following a fall in her bathroom.

Davis was living with a couple in Texas ... and the man is heard on the tape saying there was "quite a bit of blood on the floor" after her fall.

Davis was 88.

GWAR Frontman

Died of Heroin Overdose

6/3/2014 12:59 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

Dave Brockie Cause Of DeathDave Brockie -- lead singer and founding member of legendary metal band GWAR -- died of a heroin overdose ... and officials tell TMZ it was accidental.

Brockie -- a.k.a Oderus Urungus -- was found dead sitting in a chair at home back in March.

A rep for the Virginia medical examiner's office tell us the official cause of death is acute heroin toxicity ... and the death is being ruled an accident.

Brockie is not the first GWAR member to meet an early demise -- back in 2011 guitarist Cory Smoot died on the band's tour bus from a blood clot in his heart.

'Brady Bunch'

Alice Dead at 88

After Bathroom Fall

6/1/2014 2:58 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Details

0601-ann-b-davis-IMDB-01TV legend Ann B. Davis who played Alice on "The Brady Bunch" has died ... TMZ has learned.

According to the couple she lived with in Texas ... Ann fell in her bathroom early this morning and hit her head causing grave damage.  We're told she never regained consciousness.

Her roommate says Davis had been pretty healthy for an 88-year old woman -- and her death was a total shock.  In fact, she even walked downstairs to say goodnight before going to bed.

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Davis played the housekeeper Alice Nelson for the entire original run of "The Brady Bunch" from 1969 to 1974. She also filled the role for countless other TV movies and reunions. She last played Alice for 5 episodes of "The Bradys" in 1990.

We're told Ann was very close to some members of the church she attended in Texas -- and they are currently planning funeral arrangements.

Maya Angelou

Dispatcher Suspended

Over Oprah Trash Talk During 911 Call

5/30/2014 3:12 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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An emergency dispatcher who can be overheard in the Maya Angelou 911 call was suspended for criticizing Oprah Winfrey in the middle of the emergency.

John Ruckh -- a dispatcher in Winston-Salem North Carolina for 24 years -- is heard in the background ... making critical comments to someone about Oprah.

Ruckh -- who did not take the actual call -- is heard telling someone that Oprah has fallen out of grace because of an interview she did, where he claims she stated, "There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die."

Ruckh insists he used no racial slurs during the conversation, saying, "Unfortunately I work in a high-profile job and everything's recorded."

The audio is really hard to hear, but take a listen.

Maya Angelou 911

She Didn't Want to Be Resuscitated

... Says Caretaker

5/29/2014 11:22 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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Maya Angelou had informed her staff she did NOT want to be resuscitated in the event of her death ... this according to the caretaker who called 911.

The caretaker called 911 to report Maya's death -- but told the operator she was hesitant to perform CPR because the famed poet had previously been crystal clear ... when she passed, don't try to bring her back.

The operator tells the caretaker to perform CPR regardless -- because Maya didn't have a "Do Not Resuscitate" order -- and the caretaker complied ... to no avail.

As we reported, Angelou passed away Wednesday at the age of 86.

Mike Tyson

Maya Angelou Enlightened Me

... I'll Always Be Grateful

5/28/2014 10:20 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Mike Tyson Maya Angelou Death

He may have only had a few brief encounters with her, including the time she visited him in prison -- but Mike Tyson says Maya Angelou had a profound impact on his life ... and he'll always be grateful. 

After learning of Angelou's death, Tyson told TMZ Sports ... "We lost one of the greatest constellations to the human universe."

"I had the pleasure to meet Ms. Angelou on a few occasions and each time was very enlightening. I was intrigued and would ask her about the greats from her era such as Billie Holiday, Malcolm X and Fats Waller. These people were just book novels, interesting reading to me but real people to her."

"I'm just very grateful for the times I shared with this phenomenal woman, even though they were brief."

Angelou famously visited Tyson at the Indiana Youth Center in 1994 while he was serving time for a rape conviction. 

After the visit, Angelou told people her encounter with Iron Mike had an impact on her life as well -- saying, "it changed the way I thought about a number of things."

R.I.P.

Oprah on Maya

'I Will Profoundly Miss Her'

5/28/2014 10:13 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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Oprah Winfrey is mourning the loss of her mentor, Maya Angelou, saying the legendary poet "guided [her] through some of the most important years of [her] life."

Angelou passed away on Wednesday at her home in North Carolina at the age of 86.

Angelou had a close relationship with Winfrey, who said ... "What stands out to me most about Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she lived her life.  She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace."  

Oprah continued, "I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her.  She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.”

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Maya Angelou

America's Poet Laureate Dead at 86

5/28/2014 6:14 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

Maya Angelou Dead
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8:10 AM PT --
Angelou's family just posted on her Facebook page, "Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love."

9:50 AM PT -- President Obama calls Angelou "one of the brightest lights of our time" ... in a statement he just released. He added, "Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya."
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Maya Angelou
 -- one of America's most famous poets -- has died in Winston-Salem, North Carolina while recovering from a mystery sickness.

Angelou had been recovering from an "unexpected ailment." We're told paramedics got a 911 call at 7:39 A.M. from someone reporting a death at her home. She died with family by her side.

In a Facebook post yesterday, she said doctors had advised her not to travel ... forcing her to cancel a planned trip to Houston ... where Maya was to be honored Friday with the Beacon of Life Award at Major League Baseball's Civil Rights Game.

The famed author has received more than 30 honorary degrees from universities around the world. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Her most famous book -- "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" -- was also her most controversial ... for its depiction of lesbians, premarital sex, and porn.

Oprah Winfrey has called Angelou her mentor -- they met while Oprah was working in local news in Baltimore in the 80s.

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Angelou famously spoke at Bill Clinton's 1993 Inauguration ... reciting her poem "On the Pulse of Morning." 

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Angelou was one of the most inspiring poets of our time -- most famously saying, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

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