Paul O’Grady, one of Britain’s most popular TV personalities, has died aged 67.
The star, also known for his drag queen alter ego Lily Savage, died unexpectedly on Tuesday evening, according to his husband, Andre Portasio, the PA Media news agency reported.
In the statement shared with PA, 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 humor, wit and compassion.
“I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years.”
Tributes to O’Grady poured in from the world of entertainment.
“Doctor Who” star John Barrowman tweeted: “I am totally shocked and sad to hear the awful news that Paul O’Grady has died. An awesome talent stretching decades.”
He continued: “I will never forget his generosity, warmth and humor.”
Piers Morgan tweeted: “RIP Paul O’Grady, 67.
“A wonderfully warm, mischievous, hilarious guy with a sublime natural talent for broadcasting and making people laugh.”
Born in Birkenhead, near the northern English city of Liverpool, O’Grady shot to fame in the 1990s as the straight-talking drag queen Lily Savage.
In 1997, “The Lily Savage Show” ran briefly on the BBC before, later that year O’Grady took on the role of presenting the revived version of BBC gameshow “Blankety Blank,” which ran until 2002.
Two years later, he moved to ITV with “The Paul O’Grady Show,” which subsequently transferred to rival Channel 4.
His other TV credits included hosting dating show “Blind Date,” which he took on in 2017 after the death of his close friend Cilla Black.
O’Grady won numerous accolades during his career, including a TV BAFTA, and in 2008 he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to entertainment.
A huge animal-lover, he and Portasio lived in a farmhouse with a menagerie of animals, including four dogs, goats, sheep, chickens and barn owls, according to PA.
O’Grady also hosted ITV’s “For The Love Of Dogs.” In a one-off special for the show last year, O’Grady was joined by Camilla, Queen Consort to mark 160 years of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, an organization for which he was an ambassador.
The royal family paid tribute on its official Twitter account, writing: “Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Paul O’Grady, who worked closely with Her Majesty in support of
@Battersea_, providing lots of laughter and many waggy-tailed memories.”