Ruling in Nell Carter's death

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!"

Mike Boehm

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