New York — Joseph Brooks, the Academy Award-winning songwriter of "You Light Up My Life" who was awaiting trial on suspicion of rape, was found dead Sunday of an apparent suicide in his Manhattan apartment, police said.
Brooks, 73, was discovered in his Upper Easr Side apartment around 12:30 p.m. by a friend with whom he had planned to have lunch, police spokesman Paul Browne said. Brooks was on the living room couch with a plastic dry-cleaning bag around his head and a towel wrapped around his neck, Browne said. A hose attached to a helium tank was hooked up to the bag, he said. It was not immediately clear how long Brooks had been there.
The apartment door was ajar, Browne said.
The medical examiner will perform an autopsy. Police said a suicide note was found but they didn't reveal its contents.
Brooks was awaiting trial on allegations that he molested women who were lured to his apartment for supposed acting auditions. He pleaded not guilty to rape and other charges.
Brooks' lawyer and Manhattan prosecutors had no immediate comment about his death.
Brooks won the 1977 Academy Award for best original song for "You Light Up My Life," featured in a movie of the same title that Brooks directed. He also won a Grammy for the song, which became a hit single for Debby Boone.
He pleaded not guilty in 2009 to rape, sexual abuse and other charges in alleged attacks on 13 women. His trial date had not been set.
Brooks suffered a stroke in 2008, and his lawyer had said the songwriter's health was deteriorating during the court case. He appeared gaunt and walked with a shuffle at recent court dates.
Brooks' son, Nicholas, has also been charged in a high-profile criminal case in New York.
Nicholas Brooks is charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend, Peruvian American swimsuit designer Sylvie Cachay, who was found dead in an overflowing bathtub at the swank Soho House club and hotel in December. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail at the Rikers Island jail complex.