Former school headmistress JEAN HARRIS who killed her lover, HERMAN TARNOWER aka "The Scarsdale Diet Doctor" in 1980, has died at 89.
In a blockbuster, headline making case that rallied feminists and inspired TV movies, Harris was found guilty of shooting Tarnower, the millionaire cardiologist famed for devising the Scarsdale Diet – a weight-loss book sensation of the 1970s named for the posh Westchester, N.Y. suburb where he practiced.
Harris maintained that the shooting of her ex-lover Tarnower, 69, was an accident.
Feminists and her lawyers charged that Harrs had been victimized by Tarnower and that he got her hooked on antidepressant medications after he dumped her for a younger much lover.
Harris always maintained that she went armed to Tarnower's Westchester County estate in Purchase, N.Y. on March 10, 1980, to confront him over his cheating and then kill herself. But in a struggle over the gun, unintentionally shot him four times.
Convicted of murder in 1981, Harris suffered two heart attacks while serving time in the Bedford Hills women's prison.
She was granted clemency when she underwent heart bypass surgery in December 1992 and three weeks later was released on parole.
At the parole hearing Harris said she was "certainly guilty of something. I caused the man's death."
Harris later founded Children of Bedford Inc., a nonprofit org to provide scholarships and tutoring for children born to female prison inmates.
The Jean Harris Murder Case inspired two made-for-television movies, "The People vs. Jean Harris," in 1981 starring Ellen Burstyn and the later "Mrs. Harris" in 2006.
Harris died Sunday at an assisted-living facility in New Haven, her son, James Harris, confirmed.