Anthony Bourdain Dies at 61

David Scott Holloway
Anthony Bourdain

The celebrity chef and TV host was found dead in a French hotel room Friday, with his employer CNN reporting that the cause was suicide.

Celebrity chef, writer and TV host Anthony Bourdain has been found dead in a hotel room in France. He was 61.

The Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown host was found in a luxury hotel, Le Chambard, in Kaysersberg and appeared to have hung himself. The exact cause of death is under investigation. "We have indeed learned of the death by hanging of the American chef this morning in a luxury hotel in Kaysersberg, Le Chambard," said Colmar's public prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny du Fayel in a statement. "At this stage, nothing suggests the intervention of a third party," he added.

The news was confirmed on Friday by Bourdain's employer, CNN, which reported that the cause of death was suicide. 

"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," the network said Friday morning. "His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time."

CNN's Brian Stelter joined New Day to report on the news at the top of the 8 a.m. ET hour, saying that Bourdain took his own life and that beyond that, they didn't have more details. "It's just a horrible, horrible shock on every level because on his show, there is a celebration of life and all different cultures," said CNN host Alisyn Camerota. "The idea that he was suffering somehow is really heartbreaking." 

Camerota went on to call her colleague "reserved," and also praised him for being open about his history with drug addiction. "The idea that he was able to share some of his demons, that he fought drug addiction and that he fought heroin, everyone really appreciates. Because to know that someone went through it and came out the other side is really helpful. Obviously, I think all of us wish that we had known whatever was happening in the past days," she said.

Bourdain — who hadn't posted anything on social media for four days — was filming an episode for the upcoming season of his award-winning CNN original series in Strasbourg; he had hosted the show for five years and the new season premiered last month. His close friend, chef Eric Ripert, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning local time; the production crew were also there. 

"Anthony was my best friend. An exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous," Ripert later wrote on Twitter. "One of the great storytellers who connected with so many. I pray he is at peace from the bottom of my heart."

Bourdain's mother Gladys, who was a former New York Times editor, told the publication that her son was the "last person" she would expect to take his own life. “He is absolutely the last person in the world I would have ever dreamed would do something like this," Bourdain's mother said. She also revealed that while speaking with Ripert, he had told her that “Tony had been in a dark mood these past couple of days.” Though learning Bourdain had been struggling after the fact, she is unable to understand the reasoning behind his death. "He had everything,” she said. “Success beyond his wildest dreams. Money beyond his wildest dreams.”

CNN will honor Bourdain's memory with special programming throughout the weekend, including a tribute on Friday, a night of his favorite Parts Unknown episodes on Saturday, and the scheduled sixth episode — set in Berlin, Germany — that will have an introduction from anchor Anderson Cooper. Following that broadcast will be a repeat of Friday night's tribute. The network has not yet announced if it will air the final two episodes of the season.

Chef Olivier Nasti, the head of the hotel where Bourdain was found, Le Chambard, added in a statement Friday afternoon: "It is with great emotion that we learned of the death of Anthony Bourdain in our establishment. Anthony was a chef of international renown who fought with passion to democratize the kitchen and open it to a large audience, thanks to the program Parts Unknown." Nasti, a two-star Michelin chef who runs the hotel and restaurant where Bourdain was staying in the region of Alsace, added his "very sincere condolences" to the relatives of his colleague.

In addition to best-selling books, the New York City native hosted the Food Network's A Cook's Tour and the Emmy-winning Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations for the Travel Channel, before moving to CNN. A 1999 New Yorker article first put him on the map: "Don't Eat Before Reading This."

Bourdain was also in a relationship with Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento, whom he met on Parts Unknown in 2017. He threw his support behind Argento when she came forward as one of the alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein, saying he was "proud and honored" to know her and that she had done "the hardest thing in the world."

Argento wrote in a Twitter statement on Friday afternoon: "Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine."

Rose McGowan, a fellow #MeToo pioneer and friend of Argento's — particularly since both coming forward with claims against Weinstein — posted an emotional video on Twitter in reaction to Bourdain's death that she later deleted. "Anthony I am so mad at you. You were so loved, the world is not better without you... Asia needed you, Anthony. We needed you. Please come back," she wrote. In the video, a crying McGowan urged anyone needing help or who is "considering suicide as a solution to a temporary problem" to reach out and call the suicide hotline. She also shared a photo of Bourdain originally posted to Argento's Instagram page.

Bourdain wrote in a June 2 column for The Hollywood Reporter about the "most intensely satisfying experience" of his professional life, which was working on Parts Unknown's Hong Kong episode that was directed by Argento.

Survivors include his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane.

The news comes days after fashion designer Kate Spade, 55, killed herself by hanging. The CDC recently released a report that suicide rates are up by 30 percent across the nation since 1999.

In addition to mourning Bourdain on social media early Friday, a number of stars urged awareness about depression and warning signs, and advised anyone who needs help that they could call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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