Opera star Beverly Sills, who got her start in the 1950s as a winner of Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, the American Idol of its day, and went on to popularize opera on television for two generations, died Monday of lung cancer in New York at age 78. She was a frequent guest on variety shows in the '60s and '70s and was even invited to appear as a guest host of NBC's Tonight Show when Johnny Carson was the regular host. She also hosted a weekly talk show on PBS.