Paul O’Grady dies aged 67 as tribute pour in for Radio 2 legend
BRITISH icon and TV legend Paul O’Grady has tragically died, his partner has confirmed.
The Lily Savage and Radio 2 star passed “unexpectedly but peacefully” yesterday evening.
His husband Andre Portasio said: “It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday 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.
“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.”
Paul‘s cause of death is yet to be confirmed, but he had struggled with his health in recent years.
The Brit personality made a name for himself in comedy, and television – and later became known for his love of dogs.
In 2020, at the age of 65, Paul opened up about having three heart attacks, kidney failure and a coronavirus scare behind him.
At the time he told The Sun: “My cardiologist says I have the constitution of an ox.
“Three days after my last heart attack, I was back fire-eating with McFly.
“The heart is a muscle so you have two choices: Sit on the sofa and count your tablets all day, or get on with it and get moving — swimming and walking, gentle exercise.”
Paul suffered heart attacks in 2002, 2006 and 2014, and his parents both died of heart issues.
In 2017, he was hospitalised in India with kidney trouble while filming his animal show. Doctors rescued him with antibiotic and saline treatments.
Born on June 14, 1955 in Birkenhead, before he hit the big time, Paul performed as Lily Savage in the 80s.
He started off working the drag circuit with his act across pubs and clubs, and as he grew popular he eventually toured the country.
From 1989 to 1992, Paul performed annually as Lily at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, gaining increasing recognition for his act.
Paul followed this with a show titled Lily Savage Live from the Hackney Empire, which proved to be a sell-out.
He went on to host Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast for a year in the mid-Nineties, as alter ego Lily.
He then fronted BBC game show Blankety Blank from 1998 to 2002, as Lily, and in 2004 landed his own teatime chat slot, The Paul O’Grady Show, on Channel 4.
In 2008, he got an MBE and in 2010 the National Television Awards Special Recognition gong.
The comedian was married to former-professional ballerina Andre Portasio in 2017 after the pair began dating in 2006.
At the time a close friend told The Sun: “Paul is as happy as he’s ever been to be married to Andre.”
Paul had one daughter, Sharon, with his friend Diane Jansen in 1974.
He once told The Sun about how he was “woke”, adding: “I’m married to a ballet dancer, I’ve got a daughter, two grandkids and was married to a Portuguese lesbian barmaid. It doesn’t get much more woke.”
Just days ago Paul announced his new BBC show, months after his Radio 2 axe sparked an ageism row.
It was set to start in coming days.
Speaking to his producer, Malcolm Prince, as he ended his final show on March 20, he said: “This is the last Sunday Paul O’Grady show here on Radio 2 ever.
“It’s hard to say this, Malcolm, because it’s been almost 14 years hasn’t it.
“Do you know this is one of the longest jobs I’ve ever held down. I only came to do a few hours for Elaine Paige and look what happened.”
Paul was set to host a weekend show on Boom Radio, and it’s been reported that the show will have a significant component of his previous show.
He told MailOnline: “It’s great to be working with the team at Boom again. It already feels like my new radio home.”
He has also been touring the country playing Ms Hannigan in Annie at the Edinburgh Playhouse in recent weeks.
In January 2018, Paul was honoured with a Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards for his work with For The Love Of Dogs.
The documentary series first aired in 2012 and is primarily set at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London.
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