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NEW YORK (AP) — Rod McKuen, the husky-voiced "King of Kitsch" whose music, verse and spoken-word recordings in the 1960s and '70s won him Oscar nominations and made him one of the best-selling poets in history, has died. He was 81.

McKuen died Thursday morning at a rehabilitation center in Beverly Hills, California, where he had been treated for pneumonia and had been ill for several weeks and was unable to digest food, said his half brother, Edward McKuen Habib.

Until his sabbatical in 1981, McKuen was an astonishingly successful and prolific force in popular culture, turning out hundreds of songs and poems and records, including the Academy Award-nominated song "Jean" for the 1969 film "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie."
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nk Sinatra, Madonna, Dolly Parton and Chet Baker were among the many artists who recorded his material, although McKuen often handled the job himself in a hushed, throaty style he honed after an early life as a rock singer cracked his natural tenor.McKuen is credited with more than 200 albums — dozens of which went gold or platinum — and more than 30 collections of poetry. Worldwide sales for his music top 100 million units while his book sales exceed 60 million copies.

He was particularly productive in the late '60s, releasing four poetry collections, eight songbooks, the soundtracks to "Miss Jean Brodie" and "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" and at least 10 other albums.

Around the same time, his "Lonesome Cities" album won a Grammy for best spoken word recording and Sinatra commissioned him to write material for "A Man Alone: The Words and Music of Rod McKuen."

With his sharply parted blond hair, sneakers and jeans, McKuen was recognized worldwide in every medium: movies, music, books, television, stage.

When not writing or recording, he appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and other talk show programs, formed a film production company with Rock Hudson and toured constantly until he took an extended break in 1981.



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