Suicide rocks Beverly Hills "Real Housewives"

Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:10pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The estranged husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong has been found dead in an apparent suicide, just three weeks before the reality show is scheduled to return to U.S. television.

In the most tragic event to befall a reality TV show, venture capitalist Russell Armstrong, 47, was found hanged in a bedroom on Monday evening at a house in Los Angeles, coroners officials and police said..

Armstrong's wife Taylor filed for divorce in July and her struggle to keep her six year marriage alive was expected to be a key theme in the second season of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills", which is due to be premiere on September 5.

Russell Armstrong was also hit in July by a $1.5 million breach of contract lawsuit, and had huge debt problems, his lawyer said.

Cable channel Bravo said on Tuesday it was "deeply saddened by this tragic news." But executives have not said whether they plan to go ahead with broadcasting the season, or how they plan to deal with Armstrong's death.

"Taylor Armstrong is devastated by the tragic events that have unfolded," her representative said in a statement. "She requests privacy at this time so that she may comfort her young daughter." The couple have a five year-old daughter, Kennedy, and Russell Armstrong has two sons from a previous relationship.

The popular reality show about six rich and pampered women in the Beverly Hills area was filmed over the summer. The first season of the show, which aired last spring, had brought some of the biggest audiences for the "Real Housewives" franchise, attracting an average 2.4 million viewers.

In the second season's opening episode that was recently sent to TV writers, Taylor Armstrong, 40, talks about the couple entering counseling and she shops for sexy underwear in a bid to spice up their love life.   Continued...