Results of an autopsy conducted on Steve Allen confirmed that the late entertainer's death was directly related to a minor traffic accident he was involved in shortly before he died. Los Angeles Coroner Scott Carrier said Allen died of a condition known as hemopericardium.
"There was a leakage of blood into the sac surrounding the heart, due to a ruptured blood vessel," Carrier said. "There was a hole in the wall of the heart allowing the blood to leak out.
"This was a result of Mr. Allen's being injured in a minor traffic accident shortly before his death, which bruised the left side of his chest. He already had a heart condition."
Allen died in his sleep of a heart attack at his son's Encino, Calif., home Oct. 30. He was 78. Allen's son said the veteran entertainer arrived at his home to visit his grandchildren and help them carve pumpkins. Feeling tired, he laid down to rest and did not reawaken.
Allen is best remembered as the original host of "The Tonight Show" and as an accomplished author and musician.
He was married to television, film and stage actress Jayne Meadows for 48 years. Born into a show biz family, Allen wrote more than 4,000 pop songs and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most prolific composer of modern times.
On the day of his death, he was working on promotional plans for the December release of his 53rd book, "Steve Allen's Private Joke File," and adding the final touches to his 54th manuscript, "Vulgarians at the Gate." It concerned what Allen saw as a rising tide of violence and vulgarity in the popular media.
City News Service contributed to this story.