05/22/2011 at 06:35 PM EDT
Joseph Brooks, a one-time ad-jingle writer whose 1977 song "You Light Up My Life" won him an Oscar, a Grammy and a spot on the pop charts, apparently killed himself in his Manhattan apartment Sunday, according to multiple news reports.
Brooks was 73 and facing trial on 82 counts of sexual abuse for allegedly raping 11 young actresses whom he reputedly lured to his Upper East Side residence with the promise to audition them for screen roles.
In addition, his estranged son, Nicholas Brooks, 25, was awaiting trial for allegedly strangling his girlfriend, swimsuit designer Sylvie Cachay, in a bathtub within the private club Soho House last year.
A friend who was to have lunch with Joe Brooks on Sunday alerted police, who found the songwriter with a plastic dry cleaning bag and a towel over his head. A hose attached to a tank of helium gas was near his lifeless body, reports New York's Daily News
. A suicide note was also left behind.
Debby Boone won a Grammy for her cover version of Brooks's syrupy ballad "You Light Up My Life" from the movie of the same name – a romance that Brooks wrote, directed and produced. It starred Joe Silver and Didi Cohn and was panned by critics.
Undaunted, Brooks next wrote and directed – and, despite a pronounced stammer, starred in – the 1978 If Ever I See You Again
, which quickly disappeared from theaters.
In 2005, Brooks took his act to Broadway, with a multi-million-dollar musical for which he wrote the libretto and score, called In My Life
and about a songwriter with Tourette syndrome. It ran 61 performances.