Beloved MATLOCK star RICHARD LEE NEWTON died at him home in Texas on Friday (13JAN06). He was 79.

The actor, who played JUDGE RICHARD COOKSEY on the long-running detective drama, was also an acclaimed TV producer and helped to create hit US shows like HONEY WEST and Hawaii Five-O.

Among his many acting roles, Newton also played characters in top 1950s shows like ZANE GREY THEATER and FRONTIER JUSTICE.

The cause of death has not been determined.