Since bob asked about Karen Steele's (mysterious?) death, here're the basics of what I've found, thus far:
1) KS died in Kingman, AZ on March 12th, 1988 -- the city in which she'd lived for the last years of her life. (A family source claims she died at home, but there is reason to believe that she may have died at the Kingman Regional Medical Center.)
2) KS was confined to a hospital bed in her home for several years in the mid-80s with an undisclosed affliction. (It is unclear as to whether she suffered from this affliction up until her death, and whether or not it was a contributing factor to her demise. Medical opinion, however, often finds links between extended declining health and cause of death...especially when the former closely precedes the latter.)
3) In 2005, Tracy Hughey (ostensibly, grand-daughter of Dr. Maurice Boyd Ruland, KS's husband at the time of her death) had this to say on the Yahoo Group devoted to Steele: "As for the cause of death, I am not at liberty to disclose that information as it is highly personal and it was decided that it should not be publicized."
4) On that same Yahoo Group, one Marquita Margo "Bebe" Torres/Doshier, a cab driver, claims that Karen Steele was her "best friend", and that she was witness to at least some of Karen's last days. Torres/Doshier paints a very bleak picture, suggesting that Steele's husband (as a doctor, apparently the Administer of treatments during her affliction) did not live up to the Hypocratic Oath. I am loathe to quote from T/D's messages, but if you're seriously curious, email me, and I'll FW them to you off-list.
If Torres/Doshier's implications are anything close to accurate, Karen Steele may have died from complications related to Diabetes. Those "complications", if this suggestion holds any veracity, may have involved the quality of Steele's medical care.
But this suggestion MUST remain in the category of Hearsay, as I have no idea who Torres/Doshier is, nor have I done further research to either confirm or deny her claims. They MAY be true, but they may NOT be.
Reminds me of the situation with Marilyn Monroe, actually...
Sources: Tracy Hughey, KS page at Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen (their article seems well-researched, citing numerous reputable Newspapers, etc), and Marquita Margo "Bebe" Torres/Doshier.
Hi DC-- Interesting you should bring this up as I saw RIDE LONESOME for the first time not long ago. I always did wonder why Karen Steele wasn't a bigger star than what she was. It seems like she... more