- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The estranged husband of a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” cast member has been found dead in his Los Angeles home, apparently from suicide. The death of 47-year-old Russell Armstrong was caused by hanging and no note has been found, Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said.

Armstrong, who was married to “Housewives” Taylor Armstrong, was pronounced dead at 8:16 p.m. Monday in a home on Mulholland Drive, Winter said.

Bravo, home of the “Real Housewives” reality franchise, said in a statement Tuesday that “all of us at Bravo are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Our sympathy and thoughts are with the Armstrong family at this difficult time.”

Russell Armstrong was an investment banker and venture capitalist. His relationship with his wife was a big part of the drama on the first season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” which peeks into the privileged lives of six women living in the posh neighborhood.

Armstrong appeared on many episodes, accompanying wife Taylor to events. She often discussed the couple’s relationship troubles with the other women on the show, which premiered last fall.

In February, she wrote on her website that she and her husband “are working on our communication and spending more time together. without our Blackberrys” and that “the show gave us a wakeup call and for that, we are thankful.”

The second season is set to begin Sept. 5. In the opening episode, filmed months ago, Taylor Armstrong tells the other housewives that she and her husband are going to therapy.

Later, she bursts into tears at a dinner party when one of the other women’s husbands tells her that therapy is a sign of weakness. She is also shown shopping for lingerie to help spice up her marriage.

Bravo provided an advance copy of the premiere episode to the press last week.

Court records show Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce on July 15 in Los Angeles. Russell Armstrong had not yet responded to her petition.

The couple was sued last month for $1.5 million by a company that claims the pair diverted money from investors to promote their lavish lifestyle, including redecorating their mansion.

The complaint stated Russell Armstrong represented himself to be a successful venture capitalist who claimed he had procured $2 billion for various entities.

His publicist, Rebekah Iliff, said he was the founding managing director of Crescent Financial Partners. She confirmed the couple was in the midst of a divorce.

The couple’s relationship troubles were set to be part of the show’s second season, said fellow housewives Kyle Richards and Camille Grammer, whose own divorce from ex-husband Kelsey Grammer played out on the first season of show.

Richards said in an interview last week that viewers could expect to see “Taylor’s situation, just seeing that unravel and it’s a very emotional subject; a very difficult subject.”

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