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Death of Producer David Lewis Not Tied to Drugs, Tests Show

June 18, 1987

Veteran film producer David Lewis died of natural causes, not from drugs--including cocaine--which a hospital laboratory test had allegedly detected, the Los Angeles County coroner's office ruled Wednesday after lengthy tests.

Lewis, 83, who oversaw such films as "Dark Victory" and "Arch of Triumph," died in February after being hospitalized for six weeks at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Before that, he had been at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.

His death came under the aegis of sheriff's homicide detectives after Lewis' executor, James Richard Curtis, said that evidence of "street drugs . . . that virtually could not have been administered"--including cocaine and methadone--had supposedly turned up in initial hospital tests. A Cedars spokesman said Wednesday that he could not comment on the case because of confidentiality laws.

Tests for the narcotics were negative, coroner's spokesman Bill Gold said.

Investigation determined that the West Hollywood man "died from respiratory failure brought on by lung disease," Gold said. "After thoroughly investigating the possibility that drugs may have contributed to the death, we are unable to determine such a connection, so we've ruled the death from natural causes."

Sheriff's homicide detectives were not available for comment.

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