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'American Idol' Contestant

Michael Johns Dead at 35

8/2/2014 12:50 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Details
5:00 PM PST -- Sources close to Michael Johns tell us he went to a doctor on Thursday to check out the pain he had been feeling in his ankle ... the swelling and bruising had made their way up to his leg.

Doctors didn't find any problems however -- so they cleared him to go home.

We're told the next afternoon at his friends apartment ... Johns' body was found on the couch unresponsive. When paramedics arrived, he was already dead.
"American Idol" finalist Michael Johns died Friday at the age of 35.

The singer's death was caused by a blood clot in his ankle ... sources tell us he had twisted his ankle earlier and was in a great amount of pain.

People close to Johns tell us ... it appears the ankle injury triggered the clot. We're told he died in his sleep.

The singer placed 8th in Season 7 (2008) and following his exit from the show he continued to record music.  He recorded an album -- "Hold Back My Heart" in 2009.

He'd also done a tremendous amount of charity work with former executive producer Nigel Lythgoe.

Lythgoe tells TMZ, "He was a great talent and dear friend. My boys and I are devastated."

Johns was married to Stacey Vuduris.  They married in 2007.

The singer's family says, "Our family is devastated by the passing of our beloved Michael, a wonderful husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend. We appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from all corners of the globe."

080214_michael_john_launch_v2The last time we shot Michael he was in great spirits.


Drew Barrymore

Half-Sister Found Dead in Car

7/30/2014 7:20 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
Drew Barrymore Half Sister DeadJessica Blyth Barrymore, the half-sister of Drew Barrymore, was found dead in her car early Tuesday morning in San Diego. 

Jessica's body was discovered by one of her neighbors, who told 10News ... she had a soft drink between her legs, and there were dozens of white pills scattered on the passenger seat. 

Jessica and Drew had the same father -- John Drew Barrymore -- but they were not close. Jessica's mother is actress Nina Wayne ... who was John's 4th wife.

Through a rep, Barrymore tells TMZ, "Although I only met her briefly, I wish her and her loved ones as much peace as possible and I'm so incredibly sorry for their loss."

Jessica would have turned 48 on Thursday.

James Garner

Cause of Death

Fatal Heart Attack

7/29/2014 10:14 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

A massive heart attack killed actor James Garner.

According to the death certificate -- obtained by TMZ -- Garner died from acute myocardial infarction.

"The Rockford Files" star died July 19 at his Los Angeles home.

The death certificate says Garner -- who also starred in "The Notebook" -- suffered from coronary artery disease.

Garner was one of the first stars to become mega-successful on both TV and in the movies.  Among his many achievements ... "Maverick" -- a massive TV hit from 1957 - 1962.  He co-starred with Mel Gibson in the big screen version in '94.


Big Brother

Quarantine Broken Again …

Derrick's Grandpa Dies

7/25/2014 9:10 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
For the second time in days, a "Big Brother" houseguest got shocking news from the outside world about a family member's death -- this time it was Derrick Levasseur's grandfather.

On tonight's live feed, houseguest Derrick was handed a note from producers -- like Frankie Grande on Wednesday evening -- and learned of the death in his family.

It's eerie … Derrick purposely lost the Head of Household competition on Thursday so Frankie would get a chance to see photos of his grandfather who died on Tuesday.

Derrick shared his news with Frankie in the house tonight … and said his family isn't as close. He said he wasn't planning to leave the house for the funeral on Sunday.

As we told you … it is extremely rare for producers to break the 'BB' house quarantine even once in a season.

Casey Kasem's Widow

Dropped by Attorneys ...

You're M.I.A. & Owe Us Cash

7/24/2014 4:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
0724-jean-kasem-casey-kasem-tmz-getty-01Jean Kasem just made another enemy -- her attorneys are cutting her off ... claiming she's a pain in the ass client who also happens to owe them a ton of cash.

According to documents filed in Casey Kasem's conservatorship ... attorneys at Haney & Young are asking the court to relieve them as counsel for Jean, ASAP.

The lawyers claim Jean rarely responds to their emails -- and refuses to communicate by phone -- and she's ignored mounting fees (temporary conservator, Casey's attorney and others) against Casey's Estate ... which they say could end up totaling $500,000.

In a letter to Jean, the firm says if she doesn't deal with the bills -- and also pay her tab to the firm -- the total will come out of Casey's Estate.

We've made calls to Jean, but she's not getting back to us either.

'Big Brother'

Frankie Grande Gets the News His Grandpa Died

7/23/2014 6:50 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
"Big Brother" producers broke the news to Ariana Grande's brother late Wednesday that his grandfather passed away -- and the whole 'BB' house is rallying around him.

TMZ broke the story earlier today ... Frankie Grande's grandpa died on Tuesday, but Ariana obeyed his final wish -- to let Frankie continue on 'BB" despite his illness.

But this evening producers passed a note to Frankie from his family ... which revealed the sad news.

According to bloggers watching the 'BB' live feed -- Frankie broke down in tears and shared the news with everyone else in the house. Some of the other house guests are crying too.

It's extremely rare for "Big Brother" producers to break quarantine and allow contestants to get news from the outside world. One of the only times we can remember it happening is for 9/11.

Still unclear at this point who made the final call in this case. We've reached out to producers ... but, so far no word back. 

Amy Winehouse's Mom

Go Ahead, Honor My Daughter

With Your Booze & Cigs

7/24/2014 12:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Amy Winehouse Death AnniversaryAmy Winehouse's fans are marking the 3rd anniversary of her death by trashing her lawn with cigarettes and empty booze bottles ... and Amy's mom tells TMZ it's a fitting tribute.

Janis Winehouse says she's totally cool with the random drug and alcohol paraphernalia littering Amy's old house ... in addition to leaving posters, graffiti, candles and photos.

Hordes of people have visited the house at 30 Camden Square in London -- where Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 -- leaving beer cans, empty bottles of Jack Daniels, Smirnoff and packs of smokes.

Janis -- who runs an anti-drug and alcohol foundation with Amy's dad -- says she's not upset by the homage ... in fact, it makes her happy that Amy's fans still care.


'Big Brother'

Ariana Grande Hides Grandpa's Death

From Brother Frankie

7/23/2014 9:39 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
Ariana Grande Grandpa Died"Big Brother" is now keeping a deep secret  -- something that could derail the show if revealed too soon -- and it involves the death of one of Ariana Grande's relatives.

Ariana's grandfather died Tuesday.  He's also the grandpa of Ariana's brother, Frankie Grande, who's a contestant on "Big Brother."

It seems just before he died the grandfather knew Frankie might bail from the show if he found out, so one of grandpa's last wishes was to keep his death a secret from Frankie.

Ariana was chronicling her grandpa's illness ... recently posting pictures with him in the hospital.  But Frankie never saw them per the rules of the show.

Ariana made her grandfather's wishes clear, tweeting, "asked grandps last week if he wanted us to pull frankie off bb & he said "no way! he's gotta play the game even tho i don't understand it"

It seems from the "Big Bro" live feeds ... Frankie is still in the dark over his grandpa's death.
7:00 PM PT -- Producers just told Frankie about the death.


Peaches Geldof

Cause of Death

Heroin Overdose

7/23/2014 12:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
0430-peaches-geldof-getty-01The coroner has made it official ... Peaches Geldof died from a heroin overdose.

The levels of heroin in Geldof's body were in a "fatal range," and puncture wounds were found on her elbows, wrists and thumbs.

According to police, the heroin found in her home the day of her death tested 61% pure. Typical street heroin is 30%.

Geldof's husband, musician Thomas Cohen, has said Geldof was trying to kick her drug habit and had been taking methadone for 2.5 years.

The 25-year-old Geldof was found dead in her home on April 7.


Richard Pryor Jr.

Fires off Legal Threat ...

I'll Sue if Stepmom Goes Forward with Biopic

7/22/2014 12:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Richard Pryor Movie Rights
Richard Pyror
was dying and mentally incapacitated when his wife duped him into signing over the rights to his name ... so claims Pryor's son, who's trying to shut down a movie about his dad.

Richard Pryor Jr. has fired off a cease and desist letter to Jennifer Lee Pryor, demanding she stop production of the Lee Daniels directed biopic immediately.

TMZ obtained a copy of the letter in which Richard Jr. accuses Jennifer of using "illegal, fraudulent" activity to get the rights. The document isn't more specific about the alleged fraud.

Richard Jr.'s lawyer tells us her client believes Pryor was in poor mental and physical health when he signed over the rights in 2005.  Pryor died in December of that year.

Jennifer has been battling Pryor's children over the film -- including who should play Pryor.

Richard Jr. is threatening legal action if the movie goes forward. We reached out to Jennifer for comment ... so far no word back.



Katie Cleary

Dead Husband's Will

Leaves Her Zilch

7/21/2014 12:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
"Deal or No Deal" model Katie Cleary just got a big fat dose of karma -- according to some of her dead husband's friends -- because she'll inherit NOTHING if the will stands.

TMZ got a copy of Andrew Stern''s will and the document is clear -- Andrew's parents are the sole beneficiaries of his $408,000 life savings.

TMZ broke the story ... Andrew killed himself at a shooting range last month ... the result of severe depression.  Some of Andrew's friends say he was tormented by Katie and her gallivanting around the world with celebs like Leo DiCaprio.  She says they had already split up and he was ok with it.

Andrew signed the will in 2007 ... 3 years before he married Katie.

Sources close to Katie tell us ... she believes Andrew drafted a new will after they were married, leaving her a big chunk of his assets. We're told she hasn't found the will yet but she's sure it exists.

Andrew filed for divorce 2 months before he committed suicide but it wasn't final so she was his wife at the time of death.


Legendary Actor

James Garner

Dead at 86

7/19/2014 11:23 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
0719-james-garner-getty-01Legendary actor James Garner -- star of "The Rockford Files" and "The Notebook" -- has died ... TMZ has learned.

Law enforcement sources tell us an ambulance was dispatched to the actor's home in Los Angeles around 8PM Saturday evening ... and he was found dead when they arrived on scene.

James died of natural causes.

Garner was one of the first actors to amass success in both television and film ... and he starred in a long list of classic films -- as well as a co-starring role in the '94 big screen version of "Maverick" starring Mel Gibson. Garner was the original Bret Maverick from 1957-1960 ... as well as the same character in a short lived '80s remake.

Garner, who was 86 years old, also played the older version of Ryan Gosling's character in "The Notebook."


'The Patriot' Star

Skye McCole Bartusiak

Dead at 21

7/19/2014 5:39 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
0719-skye-getty-01update_graphic_red_bar1:00 PM PST: Skye reportedly had been suffering from seizures and on Saturday morning her boyfriend came home and found her sitting up in bed in her parents converted garage.  The family believes she had a seizure and choked to death.
update-grey-gray-barSkye McCole Bartusiak -- who played Mel Gibson's daughter in the 2000 hit movie, "The Patriot" -- is dead.

We do not know the cause of death. We're told Skye died at her home in Texas Saturday.

Skye was only 7 when she starred opposite Mel in the historical war film.

Skye starred in only one other movie in recent years -- "Sick Boy." Other than that she had roles in various short films.

Sources say Skye struggled after doing "The Patriot" ... trying to establish a foot print in Hollywood, but it was largely a frustrating and unsuccessful experience.

We’re told police found her dead in the garage apartment behind her home around 9AM Saturday. Right now, no foul play is suspected and it’s being treated as a natural causes death -- pending autopsy results.

Law enforcement sources tells us ... there are no "obvious signs" she took her own life ... however, our sources say toxicology reports could change their operating theory.


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