Feb. 17, 2021 — Rush Limbaugh, for decades a popular, controversial, and influential talk radio host and conservative commentator, died Wednesday, according to a family statement.
He was 70.
His death comes after a stage IV lung cancer diagnosis he announced in October.
On Feb. 3, 2020, Limbaugh announced on his show that he was undergoing treatment following episodes of shortness of breath. “The upshot is that I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer,” Limbaugh said during a live broadcast. He added, “There are going to be days that I’m not going to be able to be here because I will be undergoing treatment, or I’m reacting to treatment.”
The following day, when Limbaugh attended the State of the Union address, President Donald Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in an unannounced move.
Limbaugh announced Oct. 20 that his stage IV cancer had become terminal and that doctors had detected new growth.
Late in 2020, in his final broadcast of the year, Limbaugh thanked his listeners and supporters.
“I wasn’t expected to be alive today,” he said, according to Fox News. “I wasn’t expected to make it to October, and then to November, and then to December. And yet, here I am, and today, got some problems, but I’m feeling pretty good today.”
He is survived by Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, his wife.
“Rush encouraged so many of us to think for ourselves. To learn and to lead. He often said it did not matter where you started or what you look like, as Americans we all have endless opportunities like nowhere else in the world,” she said as she announced her husband’s death on his radio show Wednesday. “From today on, there will be a tremendous void in our lives, and on the radio.”
Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was born on Jan. 12, 1951, in Cape Girardeau, MO. He dropped out of Southeast Missouri State University after two semesters to pursue a career in radio.
He worked as a disc jockey for stations in Pittsburgh and Kansas City, but found success when hired to replace confrontational radio host Morton Downey Jr. for KFBK in Sacramento in 1984.
In 1988, he launched The Rush Limbaugh Show from WABC-AM in New York City. It eventually became syndicated on hundreds of AM and FM radio stations nationwide, making him the most popular radio host in the United States. Limbaugh fans became known as “dittoheads.”
The Rush Limbaugh Show found increasing success with conservative listeners following his support of the 1990-1991 Gulf War and his criticism of the candidacy and administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
Limbaugh has used his show to discuss his health problems. He revealed that he had extensive hearing loss, saying “I am, for all practical purposes, deaf” in October 2001. His hearing was significantly restored with cochlear implant surgery in December 2001.
On Oct. 10, 2003, Limbaugh announced on his show that he suffered from an addiction to prescription painkillers. He took time off to enter rehab and returned to the air in November 2003.
Limbaugh signed a $400 million contract with Premiere Radio Networks in 2008, one of the most lucrative radio deals at the time. He renewed his contract in 2016 and again this year.
Limbaugh’s first two books, The Way Things Ought to Be and See, I Told You So, made The New York Times bestseller list in 1992 and 1993, respectively.
Limbaugh was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.
Most recently broadcast from noon to 3 p.m. ET weekdays, The Rush Limbaugh Show has remained popular.