TV Presenter and comedian Paul O’Grady has died at the age of 67. The news was confirmed by his husband, Andre Portasio, who said in a statement that he passed away “unexpectedly but peacefully” on Tuesday evening. “We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss,” Portasio said. “He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humour, wit and compassion. I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years.”
The British star was born in Merseyside and shot to fame as drag act, Lily Savage. He presented a number of primetime shows including “Blankety Blank”, “The Paul O’Grady Show”, and a reboot of “Blind Date”, which he took on after the death of his close friend, Cilla Black, in 2015. A passionate LGBTQ+ campaigner, he was also well known for his love of animals, particularly seen in the award-winning ITV show, “For the Love of Dogs”. Most recently, he was starring as Miss Hannigan in the musical “Annie”, which he was due to continue touring with later this year.
The cause of death is not known, but O’Grady had previously suffered two heart attacks. He lived in a Kent farmhouse with his husband, who he married in 2017, and a menagerie of animals. O’Grady also leaves behind a daughter, Sharon, who had with his close friend Diane Jansen in 1974, and two grandchildren. He was previously married to Portuguese model Teresa Fernandes, who was a lesbian, from 1977 to 2005 as a “convenience” to stop her being deported and to pacify her strict Catholic family, he said in an interview, as per Metro.
Tributes began pouring in for the household name. ITV’s Lorraine Kelly tweeted, “I always think dogs are the best judge of character and they ADORED him.” Vernon Kay added that he was “one of the nicest and kindest people I’ve ever met.”