Pink Taco Founder Harry Morton Dead Too Soon At Just 38 — What We Know About His Life & Death

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How Did Harry Morton Die? 9 Facts About His Life & Possible Cause Of Death At 38
Entertainment And News

Update: The Los Angeles County Coroner's office has yet to release an official cause of death, as they are believed to be conducting further testing, but they have determined that Pink Taco founder Harry Morton's untimely death on Saturday, November 23, was due to a heart attack brought on by blockages in several artteries, with reports adding that Morton had coronary artery disease and a mildly enlarged heart,

He was 38 years old.

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Page Six reports that Morton spent Friday night with his family before returning to his home, where he was found dead the following morning.

No cause of death has been released at this time. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that the Beverly Hills PD is investigating the cause of Morton's death.

A statement from Pink Taco reads, "We are saddened by the passing of Harry Morton, the founder and former owner of Pink Taco. Harry was a visionary and restaurateur ahead of his time, and his contributions, both professionally to our brand and personally to those he worked with, were numerous. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this difficult time."

Here are 9 facts about about Harry Morton's life and what we know so far about his death.

1. Morton's family is restaurant royalty

Morton is a scion of a true restaurant dynasty: his father Peter is the co-founder and former owner of the Hard Rock Cafes and Hotels, and his grandfather Arnie Morton founded Morton's the Steakhouse in Chicago.

Morton's mother is former model Paulene Stone, who tragically lost her other child, Domino Harvey to a fentanyl overdose in 2005 at the age of 35. Domino, Morton's half-sister, was a British model turned L.A. bounty hunter who served as the inspiration for the 2005 film Domino.

Harry Morton himself was the founder of Pink Taco, a chain that boasts "Epic food. Great drinks. Kicka— good time."

2. He got his start working at his father's famous chain, The Hard Rock Cafe

Simply coming from a family of restaurateurs isn't enough to teach someone how to create a successful restaurant chain.

Harry learned the business hands-on, spending summers working for his father's Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, eventually climbing the ladder to become Vice President of Development.

3. He started cheekily named restaurant chain Pink Taco with his dad

Morton said he hadn't planned to forge a career in the restaurant business, but Pink Taco afforded him an opportunity to strike out on his own.

He and his father had opened the original Pink Taco in the Vegas Hard Rock Hotel in 1999, when Harry was just 18.

Harry soon open locations in L.A., building the brand around the idea of a restaurant with good ambiance, good music, and plenty of affordable liquor.

In 2014, he was developing his own tequila brand, trying to create something that would be a party drink along the lines of Fireball or Jaegermeister. "I want to be talking about the party," he said at time.

In 2016, he sold ownership of the Pink Taco brand to Capital Z Partners and Real Mex Restaurants Inc., but stayed on board to help with creative direction.

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4. Morton's love life included a long list of famous women

Over the course of his far-too-short life, Harry was linked to numerous famous women, including Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Hayden Panettiere.

In 2006, Morton began dating Lindsay Lohan, then 20 and making her transition from Disney films to more mature roles. She was also partying — a lot.

At the time, friends thought the two made a good couple, crediting Morton, then 25, with helping tone down her hard-partying ways.

However, Morton was sober and the drama of Lindsay's lifestyle remained a bit much for him, according to an anonymous insider.

"She was too much drama,” the source told People in September 2006, after the couple spilt up. “Lindsay did cut down on the partying, but with her, it’s all relative. Harry is sober. It wasn’t the partying that broke them up. Harry’s more low-key and not into the same stuff she’s into.”

Just a few months later, in January 2007, Lindsay's partying caught up with her and she headed to rehab for the first time.

After learning of his death, Lohan took to Instagram where she posted a photo of the two of them together, bearing the caption, "Best friends. Best life."

Trending on YourTango

 

Best friends. Best life.

A post shared by Lindsay Lohan (@lindsaylohan) on Nov 24, 2019 at 3:37pm PST

5. He purchased several iconic properties, including the Viper Room

Morton had interests in properties with history, based on some of the major purchases he made.

In 2008, he purchased the Viper Room, the infamous music venue on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, perhaps best known as the scene where River Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993.

Earlier this year, he also purchased a Beverly Hills property once owned by Elvis and Priscilla Presley for a cool $25.46 million.

Interestingly, Morton's father owned that same property after Elvis left the building, although he sold it in 2014 for $14.5 million after owning it for just two years.

Reports emphasize the former Presley estate is not the home in which Morton was found, despite prior reports to the contrary.

6. He was a volunteer sheriff's deputy

Harry was honored by the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station for his service as a reserve detective in 2018.

The station credited Morton and fellow Reserve Detective of the Year, Charles Ferraro, with spending hundreds of hours each year assisting detectives "with countless cases, the recovery of stolen property, searching/reviewing video, reviewing social media, and many other tasks that have resulted in solving crimes."

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7. Morton underwent surgery on his nose a few weeks ago

Sources close to Morton told TMZ that Harry recently had surgery to repair a deviated septum.

"If the surgical instruments go deeper than they should," the outlet reported, "it could end up damaging the base of the brain ... something that could lead to death."

However, sources also noted Harry had been "back to his normal routine and [was not known to have] complained about complications from the surgery."

8. Authorities seem to have ruled out either a drug overdose or foul play as Morton's cause of death

A source told People it was Harry's younger brother Matthew who found Harry unresponsive in his home and called paramedics, who pronounced him dead when they arrived.

At this time, no foul play is suspected, and no illegal drugs were found on the scene.

9. An autopsy was completed Monday, and a preliminary cause of death has been revealed

On November 25, TMZ received confirmation an autopsy has been completed, and while an official cause of death is still pending in light of further testing on other organs, a statement issued by his family explains that family friend and heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato found Morton “had calcification in three main arteries and suffered sudden cardiac death — an unexpected death caused by loss of heart function.”

As Cleveland Clinic explains, "Coronary artery disease is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis ... the buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits (called plaques) on the inner walls of the arteries ...

"Without an adequate blood supply, the heart becomes starved of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to work properly. This can cause chest pain called angina. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart muscle is cut off entirely, or if the energy demands of the heart become much greater than its blood supply, a heart attack (injury to the heart muscle) may occur."

The family also said they are planning a memorial service for this coming Saturday, November 30.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.