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Hollywood suicide of Real Housewives star 'blamed on reality TV'

The apparent suicide of a husband on The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills showed the dark side of reality TV, experts said.

Russell Armstrong, the estranged husband of one of the show's stars Taylor Armstrong, was found hanged in his home in what Los Angeles coroners and police called an apparent suicide.

The 47-year-old venture capitalist's death came amid personal turmoil that was expected to be a key storyline in the second season of Real Housewives.

The show was taped this summer, and in July Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce. Her husband also was hit with a $1.5m breach of contract lawsuit, leaving him struggling with debts, his attorney said.

It is not the first time scandal has rocked a reality TV series. Jon & Kate Plus 8 saw the acrimonious divorce of its stars, Jon and Kate Gosselin, and the first season of Real Housewives was filmed during the marriage break-up of Kelsey and Camille Grammer. Nevertheless, Hollywood was stunned by Armstrong's death.

"There's definitely a dark side to selling your privacy," said Karen Sternheimer, author of Celebrity Culture And The American Dream: Stardom And Social Mobility.

"One of the things so-called reality TV shows mirror is conventional dramas in a way. But they cast people more likely to be teetering on the edge of stability because it makes for better television," she said. "Having cameras turns up the volume on things that were already present."

Cable channel Bravo, which airs Real Housewives, said it was "deeply saddened" by the death.