Paul O’Grady, a presenter, and comedian passed away at the age of 67. Tuesday evening, he died “unexpectedly but painlessly,” his husband Andre Portasio said in a statement.
O’Grady rose to prominence in the 1990s with his drag queen alias Lily Savage and went on to host Blankety Blank and other light entertainment programs.
Later in his career, he hosted several conversation shows and introduced his passion for dogs to the small screen.
Mr. Portasio added,
“It is with great sadness that I notify you that Paul passed away peacefully but unexpectedly yesterday evening.”
“His loved ones, friends, family, animals, and all those who appreciated his humor, wit, and compassion will miss him immensely.
“He would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him throughout the years,” I believe.
He had just returned from touring as Mistress Hannigan in the musical Annie.
A few weeks ago, after returning from a performance in Newcastle, O’Grady said on Instagram that he was “thoroughly loving” reprising the part “, especially with a truly fantastic and charming cast”
The radio host quit his weekly Radio 2 program in August 2022, citing his displeasure with sharing his Sunday afternoon time slot as the reason.
Easter Sunday was scheduled to air on Boom Radio in less than two weeks.
Longtime radio producer Malcolm Prince described O’Grady as “laughing, smiling, and full of life” after visiting him at home on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr. Prince tweeted the following:
“He was very proud of Annie, thrilled to be back on Boom Radio, and excited for so many upcoming projects.
“And now he has left. I can’t believe it. We have lost a unique skill – and I’ve lost a close friend.”
Wednesday on her Radio 2 breakfast program, Zoe Ball stated: “Our hearts are heavy this morning due to the news about our beloved friend Paul O’Grady. I am aware that he was cherished by Radio 2 listeners and all of us present.”
Lorraine Kelly of ITV referred to O’Grady as a “really unique individual.” “Very horrible news. Paul O’Grady is humorous, fearless, courageous, kind, and sage “She sent out tweets. Will be profoundly missed.
TV host Amanda Holden described O’Grady as “strong, humorous, outspoken, no-nonsense, fantastic” on Instagram, while radio host Simon Mayo described him as “a great man, always entertaining, and a radio natural.”
Aled Jones, a singer and TV host, referred to O’Grady as a “beautiful great person,” while Vernon Kay said he was “one of the sweetest and kindest individuals I’ve ever met, always a delight to be around, and clearly so much fun.”
Danny Beard, the winner of the fourth season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race Britain, stated on BBC Breakfast that Paul O’Grady was “the most influential figure in British society for drag.”
Peter Tatchell, a campaigner, described the presenter as a “widely recognized advocate for LGBT+ equality and animal rights.”
One of O’Grady’s most recent television appearances was alongside Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, for a one-off episode of ITV’s For The Love of Dogs – a program he helped create in 2012, which followed the workers at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, an organization for which he was an ambassador.
Following his passing, the animal shelter recognized O’Grady as a committed animal advocate.
O’Grady was born in 1955 in Birkenhead, Wirral, Merseyside, to a mother with the maiden name Savage, which is thought to have inspired his famous drag performance.
In the 1970s, he began performing as Lily Savage. Later, the drag queen performed an eight-year run of a solo act at London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern and became known for speaking out on LGBT causes.
Afterward, he presented the BBC chat show The Lily Savage Show for a brief period in 1997, before hosting a revived edition of the game show Blankety Blank, which aired until 2002.
Afterward, he hosted The Paul O’Grady Show on ITV from 2004 to 2005, before transferring it to Channel 4 from 2006 to 2009. It was then reintroduced in 2013 on ITV and aired for two years.
As he experienced a health crisis in 2013, the talk show was hosted by guest hosts 2013. He had suffered heart attacks in 2002 and 2006, with the latter necessitating an intensive care stay.
With a 2017 relaunch of Blind Date on Channel 5, the broadcaster also took up hosting duties from her close friend Cilla Black.
The Paul O’Grady Show earned O’Grady a TV Bafta, a British Comedy Award, and a National Television Award throughout his career.
In 2008, he was awarded an MBE for services to entertainment in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
In 1974, the television star had a daughter with his friend Diane Jansen. Also, In 1977, he married a Portuguese lesbian for convenience, and they remained legally married until 2005.
Also, In 2017, he married his spouse at a ceremony in London.
In November, O’Grady, who resided in Aldington near Ashford, was named one of Kent’s deputy lieutenants. This position is responsible for representing the King at local events.
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