Don Imus Biography

Don Imus was an American radio talk show host and philanthropist. This biography of Don Imus provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline

Quick Facts

Birthday: July 23, 1940

Nationality: American

Famous: Vegans Alcoholics

Died At Age: 79

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: John Donald Imus Jr., John Donald Imus Jr., John Donald

Born Country: United States

Born in: Riverside

Famous as: Radio Talk Show Host

Height: 6'2" (188 cm), 6'2" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Deirdre Imus, Harriet Showalter

father: John Donald Imus Sr.

mother: Frances E.

siblings: Fred Imus

children: Frederick Wyatt Imus

Died on: December 27, 2019

place of death: Texas

U.S. State: California

Founder/Co-Founder: Imus Ranch

More Facts

awards: NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame

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John Donald "Don" Imus, Jr. was an American radio talk show host and philanthropist. As a radio host he was famous as well as notorious for his controversial sense of humor and rude in-your-face comments that were both entertaining and offensive. He rose to fame with the nationally syndicated talk show, ‘Imus in the Morning’, which was first aired in 1971. Already a popular radio personality at the time the show premiered, he touched even greater heights of fame when the talk show became a sensational favorite with the audience. Well known for his style of “insult humor”, he was credited with introducing the New York radio community to the shock jock style of hosting which comes naturally to him. Raised on a big ranch in Arizona, Don Imus had a rough childhood marked by a troubled adolescence and his parents’ divorce. He assumed the image of a tough cowboy to deal with life’s challenges and even had a few brushes with the law. Eventually he decided to get serious about life and began a career as a radio disc jockey. He found great success in this profession due to his unconventional sense of humor and also gained quite a few critics. Don Imus was also well known for his involvement in philanthropic works.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • His miseries continued even after his discharge from the corps. With no formal education or vocational training, the young man struggled to find stable employment. He worked in a series of short-lived jobs including stints as a window dresser and a rock 'n' roll musician. As a young man he also became addicted to alcohol.
  • Without a proper job, Don Imus found himself homeless for a while. After working for some time in uranium and copper mines, he found work as a brakeman for Southern Pacific Railroad.
  • During this time he won a talent contest at Johnny Otis's nightclub. This gave him an opportunity to embark on a career as a singer/songwriter, managed by Otis.
  • Don Imus regularly listened to radio and approached the owner of a nearby radio station asking for a job. Soon he was appointed as a radio disc jockey at radio station KUTY in Palmdale, California, in 1968.
  • After a few months’ stint at KUTY, he moved to KJOY, a small radio station in Stockton, California, in 1969. He soon gained a reputation for his rude comments and controversial statements that not only made him popular, but also got him into trouble sometimes. He was fired from KJOY for saying "hell" on air.
  • Moderately popular by now, he had no problem getting another job and was soon hired by KXOA in Sacramento, California. There his popularity increased manifold after he played an on-air prank of calling up a restaurant and ordering 1200 hamburgers.
  • Don Imus joined the WNBC radio in New York City in 1971. During this time he recorded three record albums: ‘1200 Hamburgers to Go’, ‘One Sacred Chicken to Go with Anthrax’, and ‘This Honky's Nuts’.
  • He started hosting the show ‘Imus in the Morning’ in December 1971. The show soon became very popular because of his scathing sense of humor and controversial comments. He introduced the concept of “Insult Humor” to the audiences and never shied away from making fun of celebrities, media personalities, and even his own sponsors!
  • Don Imus’ technique greatly increased the rating of the show and made him immensely popular among his fans. However, he was badly addicted to alcohol and drugs by this time and was known to be frequently absent from work. In 1977, he was fired from WNBC because of his absenteeism and certain other factors.
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  • Lady luck smiled at him again as he was unexpectedly hired back by WNBC in September 1979 and asked to resume his morning show. He continued hosting the tremendously popular show which was broadcast almost every weekday morning for 36 years on radio and 11 years on MSNBC until it was canceled on April 12, 2007.
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Major Works
  • Don Imus was best known for hosting the show ‘Imus in the Morning’, a highly popular show that was broadcast almost every weekday morning for 36 years on radio and 11 years on MSNBC until it was canceled on April 12, 2007. The program was once among the most listened to radio talk shows in the United States.
Philanthropic Works
  • Don Imus and his wife founded the Imus Ranch in 1999 with the purpose of providing children with cancer a chance to experience life on a functioning cattle ranch free of charge. The aim of the endeavor was to build up the children’s self-confidence while they were struggling to live with a terrible disease that not only weakened them physically, but also eroded their confidence. The ranch program was discontinued in 2014.
  • The Imuses were also involved with the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology at New Jersey's Hackensack University Medical Center, Tomorrow's Children Foundation, a New Jersey based charity for children with cancer and blood disorders, as well as with the CJ Foundation, an organization which supports SIDS research and educational efforts.
Awards & Achievements
  • He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1989.
  • Don Imus was the recipient of four Marconi Awards. Thrice he won the award for Major Market Personality of the Year (1990, 1992, and 1997) and once for Network Syndicated Personality (1994).
  • In 1997 he was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in America by ‘Time’ magazine.
Family & Personal Loife
  • Don Imus' first marriage was to Harriet who he divorced in 1979. During this marriage he had adopted Harriet’s two daughters from a previous relationship. Harriet and Don also had two daughters of their own.
  • Don Imus married his second wife, Deirdre Coleman, in 1994. The couple had a son named Frederick Wyatt in 1998.
  • He announced to his audience in March 2009 that he was diagnosed with Stage II prostate cancer. He also suffered from some respiratory issues.
  • Don Imus died on 27 Dec 2019, at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas.
  • Don Imus was a vegan. His wife, Deirdre Coleman, is also a vegan.

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