Comedian and presenter Paul O’Grady has died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ aged sixty-seven, the BBC reports.
In a statement, O’Grady’s husband, Andre Portasio, announced his tragic passing.
“It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening,” he wrote.
“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.”
It was previously reported, per the Mirror, that the star had been suffering from illness during his final year at Radio 2, as well as that he had suffered 2 heart attacks.
He told the Mirror, in an eerie prediction of his own death: “I do count my blessings. I have had 2 heart attacks, and if I get to sixty that will be amazing. I don’t fear anything nowadays.
“There has to be an angel out there. They are trying to steer me out of trouble twenty-four hours a day.”
He first rose to fame during the 1990s with his drag act persona, the iconic Lily Savage. As Savage, he presented many well-known TV shows including Blankety Blank and The Big Breakfast. Savage was so well loved that she even got her own show, Lily Live!, in 2000.
Later on in O’Grady’s life, he became a mainstay of early evening TV with his The Paul O’Grady Show that ran for a whopping fifteen seasons throughout the 2000s.
He then went on to star in Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs, set at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home that has been a fan favourite since it first hit screens in 2012.
The animal shelter have paid tribute to the star, with their chief executive Peter Laurie saying, per LADBible: “Battersea will forever remember Paul as a devoted animal lover with the biggest heart, who fell head over heels in love with every dog he met at our centres.
“Paul will always be associated with Battersea and we are truly saddened to have lost such a true friend and huge part of our charity.”
Fans have been sharing their own tributes to the star all over social media.
“I loved Paul O’Grady and I loved Lily Savage. He was in the trenches fighting for our community during the HIV & AIDS epidemic. Lily Savage was a genius & subversive creation that managed to reach mainstream audiences – the impact of which was transformative. RIP & thank you,” one person wrote.
Another said: “Saw Paul O’Grady way back in the day as Lily – always had a smile, a friendly word and a hug for me over the years that followed. Absolute gutted he’s gone. RIP x.”
While a third wrote: “A genuine icon, a trailblazer in so many ways. Paul O’Grady was someone that brought so much joy, his wit and craft as Lily Savage was just genius. Not just a brilliant entertainer but someone who thought for the rights for queer people and those living with HIV.”
Rest in peace, Paul O’Grady.
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