(CelebrityAccess) — Rush Limbaugh, the controversial conservative radio host and political activist, died on Wednesday. He was 70.
Limbaugh’s passing was announced by his wife Kathryn during Wednesday’s broadcast of the Rush Limbaugh show.
Last February, Limbaugh revealed that he was battling advanced lung cancer and had begun treatment. He remained on the air, with guest hosts filling in on days when was not able to broadcast.
Known for his controversial views, Limbaugh weighed in on matters from race and sexuality, to socialism and free speech. He was a supporter of U.S. military intervention worldwide and a climate change skeptic.
A native of Missouri, Limbaugh got his start in radio in 1971 at WIXZ, a Top 40 station in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, where he adopted the name Bachelor Jeff and worked the afternoon shift. However, he only lasted for 18 months before he was fired over personal differences with the station’s program manager.
After his exit from WIXZ, Limbaugh remained in radio, moving to various stations in the Midwest before landing an afternoon slot at KUDL in Kansas City, Missouri, where he also became host of a public affairs show, providing the public with its first exposure to his brand of politics.
However, Limbaugh’s real break came in 1987 with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which required that stations provide free airtime for responses to political opinions, opening the door to highly politicized talk radio to make the jump from shortwave to commercial broadcasting.
Limbaugh’s brand further expanded with the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, giving Limbaugh a target to rail against during his broadcasts and during live appearances. When Republicans gained control of congress for the first time in decades after the midterm elections in 1994, they publicly credited Limbaugh’s firebranding with playing a key role in their success and awarded him honorary membership in their caucus.
Limbaugh hosted a syndicated national television show from 1992 to 1996 that was produced by Fox News exec Roger Ailes but Limbaugh said he did not enjoy television broadcasting.
In 2003, Limbaugh was hired briefly as an NFL sportscaster for ESPN but was forced to resign after just a few weeks following controversial remarks he made about quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Limbaugh was an outspoken opponent of drug use but was later himself arrested for illegally obtaining prescription painkillers.
An ardent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by First Lady Melania Trump in 2020.