Actress Nell Carter died of probable arteriosclerotic heart disease, with diabetes a contributing condition, the Los Angeles County coroner has ruled.
Carter, 54, was found dead in her Beverly Hills home on Jan. 23. The coroner's determination was based on X-rays, blood tests, medical history and observation of her body in a post-mortem examination the day after her death, according to Capt. David Campbell, a coroner's spokesman.
Campbell said that with no foul play suspected, the coroner respected a provision in Carter's will asking that her body not be subjected to an autopsy; consequently, the cause of death is being given as "probable" rather than definitive.
Tests showed that there were no illegal drugs in Carter's system, Campbell said. The singer-actress, who at the time of her death was rehearsing for a leading role in a Long Beach production of the musical "Raisin," had a history of drug addiction during the 1980s.
Carter became a star in 1978 with her Tony Award-winning turn in the Broadway musical "Ain't Misbehavin'," and extended her fame during the 1980s playing a police chief's housekeeper on the TV sitcom "Gimme a Break!"