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Article

Joseph Brooks, Oscar-winning songwriter, dies at 73

The songwriter behind Debby Boone’s platinum hit ”You Light Up My Life,” was discovered dead of an apparent suicide

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Joseph Brooks, the songwriter behind Debby Boone’s platinum hit ”You Light Up My Life,” was discovered dead of an apparent suicide in his Manhattan home on May 22. He was 73 years old. In the years after winning an Academy Award (as well as a Grammy and a Golden Globe) for penning the song — which came from the 1977 film of the same name that he also wrote, directed, and produced — Brooks became more famous for his legal troubles. In 2009, the songwriter was charged with sexually assaulting 13 women, all of whom were reportedly aspiring actresses he lured to his home under the pretense of auditioning for roles and then drugged as part of a fake acting exercise. He was released on bail shortly after his arrest and outfitted with an ankle monitoring bracelet, and was awaiting trial.

In a three-page suicide note, Brooks lamented his failing health (he had suffered a stroke that forced him to walk with a cane and left him unable to play the piano) and financial struggles, and professed his innocence regarding the sexual-assault charges. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the Brooks family’s troubles: Brooks’ 25-year-old son, Nicholas, is awaiting trial for the murder of his girlfriend at a private Manhattan club last December (he has pleaded not guilty).