Prince’s first female protégé turned girlfriend turned ex, Vanity, died Monday from natural causes in a California hospital at age 57. The Canadian singer, actress and model born Denise Matthews had been battling a variety of health issues and recently started a GoFundMe page asking for help fighting a condition called sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis.

Although she never formally lived here, Vanity came to Minnesota frequently in the early-1980s to work with Prince in the typically lingerie-clad trio Vanity 6, which scored the sultry 1982 hit “Nasty Girl.” She returned after her breakup with Prince to work on solo albums with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who got to know her when she and the Time opened Prince’s 1999 Tour in 1983, the same year she stood oh-so-adoringly behind Prince in his first Rolling Stone cover photo (shot by Richard Avedon).

In an unusually emotional and personal opening night of his Australian Piano & Microphone tour on Monday at the State Theatre in Melbourne, Prince picked out several early-’80s tunes in dedication to Matthews. He also recounted a story about one of their heated arguments, when he threatened to throw Vanity in the pool. “You can’t throw me in the pool, you’re too little,” she retorted. So Prince asked his 6-foot bodyguard Chick to toss her in for him.

“Her and I used to love each other deeply,” he said. “She loved me for the artist I was. I loved her for the artist she was trying to be. She and I would fight. She was very headstrong, ‘cuz she knew she was the finest woman in the world. She never missed an opportunity to tell you that.”


Holt family affair at NBC

It’s about to be a family affair at 30 Rock for NBC News anchor Lester Holt and his son, Stefan Holt, who soon will be anchoring a weekday newscast on the network’s New York station, it was announced Tuesday. Holt, 29, will start at WNBC in April. He comes from NBC-owned Chicago outlet WMAQ, where he has been an anchor for five years.


Switch: The countdown is on to catch Kelli O’Hara in her Tony Award-winning turn in “The King and I” on Broadway. O’Hara will play her final performance on April 17, which also marks the end of Ken Watanabe’s stint as the King of Siam. Tony-nominated Marin Mazzie will replace O’Hara starting May 3, the same night Daniel Dae Kim makes his debut as the king. Watanabe is being treated for stomach cancer but returns to the role March 17.

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