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Darius Danesh dead: Pop Idol and West End star dies aged 41

Darius Danesh dead: Pop Idol and West End star dies aged 41

F

ormer Pop Idol contestant and theatre star Darius Campbell Danesh has been found dead in his US apartment at the age of 41, his family announced.

The singer and actor was found in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11 – although the cause of death remains unknown.

A statement said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh. Darius was found unresponsive in bed in his apartment room in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11 and was pronounced dead in the afternoon by the local medical examiners’ office.

“The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances. The cause of his sudden death is unknown at this stage while medical examinations continue.

“We ask that you kindly respect our wishes for privacy at this time whilst we come to terms with the tragic loss of our son and brother.”

The Scottish singer-songwriter and actor – who was known as Darius Danesh when he made his first bid for fame in ITV show Popstars in 2001 – also appeared on the first Pop Idol, which was won by Will Young.

He went on to forge a successful stage career, appearing in Chicago as Billy Flynn in two runs of the production, as well as Guys And Dolls, Gone With The Wind and more in the West End.

He lived in the US and found love with Canadian actress Natasha Henstridge, whose films include sci-fi hit Species.

The couple married in 2011 at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, but were divorced a few years later.

In 2010, he spoke to Hello! magazine about a car crash in which he broke his neck.

The singer had been a passenger in a Porsche when it hit a wall at 70mph after skidding on oil during a sunshine break in Spain.

After coming third in Pop Idol in 2010, he went on to win the first series of ITV’s Popstar To Operastar contest, beating Bernie Nolan of the Nolan Sisters in a close final.

A few months after his win on the ITV show, which featured Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and Mexican-born tenor Rolando Villazon as judges, he landed his first major opera role as he was cast in a new production of Carmen at London’s O2 Arena.

He took on the principal role of toreador Escamillo in the production, for a one-off performance which marked the first ever opera at the venue at the time.

In 2011, speaking about reprising the role of Chicago’s scheming lawyer Flynn, he said he had based his portrayal of the character on his old mentor and Pop Idol judge, Simon Cowell.

Campbell starred opposite Ugly Betty star America Ferrera in the musical set in prohibition-era Chicago, and said: “He’s the consummate businessman and a wonderful guy and there’s a lot of Simon Cowell in Billy Flynn in terms of the way he approaches things and I recognise that in terms of the character.”

He credited Cowell with persuading him to take on the role in Chicago in the first place.

He said: “I’m incredibly grateful for the experiences I’ve had and all the opportunities that it opened up and to be able to call Simon Cowell a friend and to be able to have dinner with him.”

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