When Celebrities Died, He Was the Man Behind the Scenes

Ed Winter, former Los Angeles County coroner, has died at 73
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2023 8:32 AM CDT
When Celebrities Died, He Was the Man Behind the Scenes
Ed Winter speaks to the media on Jan. 10, 2008, in Los Angeles regarding the death of Donda West, the mother of rapper Kanye West.   (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

When celebrities died in Los Angeles County, there was one man's name you could pretty much count on hearing: that of Ed Winter, the county's former deputy coroner, who handled investigations into the deaths of some of the most high-profile stars in Hollywood. Now, a goodbye to Winter himself, who died at his home Friday of natural causes at the age of 73, law enforcement sources tell TMZ. Winter worked behind the scenes on the cases of such notables as Corey Haim, Paul Walker, Tom Petty, Brittany Murphy, and Whitney Houston.

Winter was so well known that, after Houston's body was found in her hotel room in February 2012, when he arrived to find family there and was introduced to Dionne Warwick, Houston's cousin, Warwick noted, "I know who Ed Winter is." Winter's most famous case, however, was Michael Jackson—he ended up signing Jackson's death certificate in lieu of Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician, after Murray fled the hospital where Jackson was pronounced dead.

At the time of Jackson's June 2009 death, Winter said he was taken aback by the number of injection spots on the pop star's body. He also made the famous remark that Jackson had enough of the sedative propofol in him "to put down a rhinoceros or an elephant." Winter's very first day as coroner saw him thrust into the probe over the 2003 death of Lana Clarkson, a model and actor whom record producer Phil Spector was eventually convicted of murdering. Per KTLA, Winter retired from his coroner duties in 2019. (Read more Ed Winter stories.)

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