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Sunday, 3 February, 2002, 16:31 GMT
Demme took cocaine, says coroner
Ted Demme
Blow was biggest movie of Ted Demme's career
Director Ted Demme had cocaine in his system when he died last month, and the drug may have been a factor in his death, according to coroner's officials.

Lieutenant Erick Arbuthnot, from Los Angeles county coroner's, said the director had thickened heart arteries, and died when a blood clot formed in a heart vessel.

The small amount of cocaine in his body could have been a factor in the fatal heart attack, and "we've ruled it an accidental death," Arbuthnot added.

Mr Demme, who directed and produced the hit movie Blow, Ted Demme, died aged 38.

Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz
Blow starred Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz
It was reported that the father-of-two was taking part in a celebrity basketball game at a school when he collapsed with a heart attack.

A week after his death he was remembered at the 59th Golden Globe Awards when actor Kevin Spacey asked the audience to toast him.

Mr Demme's directing career began in television with shows such as Homicide: Life on the Streets before moving into feature films.

He also directed several of comedian Denis Leary's TV shows. It is understood Leary was also taking part in the basketball match.

Penelope Cruz sidesteps a romantic typecasting
Penelope Cruz played a selfish wife
In a statement, Leary said: " I lost one of my closest friends in the world. Ted Demme was a great friend, father and husband, a man whose talent was matched only by his incredible passion for life."

Mr Demme directed several small comedies including The Ref and Who's the Man before securing bigger names for his movies.

His 1996 film Beautiful Girls starred Miro Sorvino, Uma Thurman and Matt Dillon in a tale of a high-school reunion.

True story

In 1999 he won an Emmy Award for outstanding made for television movie A Lesson Before Dying, on which he was an executive producer.

But his biggest hit was the critically acclaimed Blow, starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz.

The 2001 movie told the true-life story of George Jung, the man credited with introducing cocaine on a mass scale into America from Columbia in the late 1970s.

Mr Demme lived in West Hollywood with his wife Amanda Scheer-Demme, a music supervisor on many of his films, and his son and daughter, aged two and four.

His uncle was Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme, whose credits include Philadelphia, Married to the Mob and Silence of the Lambs.

See also:

25 May 01 | Reviews
Blow to the senses
22 May 01 | Film
Depp blows into London
08 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Hannibal makes a killing
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