Jean Harris, Convicted of Murdering 'Scarsdale Diet' Doctor, Dies at 89

Former girls school headmistress who made headlines for months over the murder of her lover dies at an assisted-living facility.

Jean Harris, a former girls school headmistress who was convicted and imprisoned for the 1980 murder of a best-selling diet doctor, has died.

Harris died last Sunday at an assisted-living facility in Connecticut, according to the New York Times, citing her son James. She was 89.

Harris served 12 years in prison for the murder of her lover, Dr. Herman Tarnower, author of the popular "Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet."

The case - with elements of violent jealousy, a celebrity victim, a love triangle involving a younger woman and the head of an exclusive boarding school - provided newspaper headlines and tabloid fodder for months.

The head of the posh Madeira School in McLean, Virginia, Harris was convicted of Tarnower's 1980 shooting death and sentenced to 15 years in prison for murder. She was granted clemency by then New York Governor Mario Cuomo and released in 1993.

At the time of the murder, Harris, 57 and divorced, and the never-married Tarnower, 69, had been dating for more than a decade. The doctor had also been carrying on an affair with his younger receptionist.

On the night of March 10, 1980, Harris wrote a will, funeral instructions and a letter resigning from her job before driving to Tarnower's home in suburban Purchase, New York, testimony at her trial showed. Harris testified she went there with a pistol and the intention of killing herself. She testified she put the gun to her head, but the couple struggled over the weapon which then went off. Tarnower was struck by four bullets and died.