Beloved TV host and comedian Paul O'Grady has died 'unexpectedly' at 67
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Beloved TV host and comedian Paul O'Grady has died at the age of 67, according to his partner.
O'Grady and his drag queen persona Lily Savage became a household name in the UK in the 1990s.
He hosted Blankety Blank, Blind Date, The Paul O'Grady Show, The Lily Savage Show and many others during his heyday.
The 67-year-old was most recently playing Miss Hannigan in the musical Annie.
His partner confirmed his tragic passing in a statement.
Andre Portasio said (via the BBC): "It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.
"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."
O'Grady's longtime friend, Malcolm Prince, said he was visited by the comedian just yesterday.
Prince said: "I popped round to Paul's for a good old catch-up. Surrounded by his beloved dogs, he was laughing smiling and full of life. He was looking forward to so many new projects.
"And now he's gone I can't believe it. We have lost a unique talent - and I've lost a dear friend. We were all lucky to have Paul in our lives.
"My heart goes out to Andre, Paul's family, and friends. Oh how I'll miss him."
Other have raced to social media to post tributes to the man and drag queen who made them laugh for so many years.
Such sad news. Paul O’Grady - funny, fearless, brave, kind and wise. Will be sorely missed. A really special man.— Lorraine (@reallorraine) March 29, 2023
Paul O’Grady was in the trenches fighting for our community during the HIV & AIDS epidemic, she took drag mainstream, she made our mums howl with laughter and normalised gay people on TV by being utterly vile. I can’t imagine a world without her. A truly brave and hilarious man x pic.twitter.com/Zf5ABmg9J7— James Barr (@imjamesbarr) March 29, 2023
Paul O'Grady— Carol Vorderman (@carolvorders) March 29, 2023
Already giving them raucous, ripping up the rulebook, mischief making, calling it out, loving hell in heaven
Paul, what are we meant to do without you?
Producer Tom Wright said on Twitter: "Before Drag Race and social media it was rare for queens to break through into mainstream media, Paul was one of the few leading the way and smashing down barriers. Everyone loved him, but he preferred animals. RIP Paul O’Grady AKA the legendary Lily Savage, you will be missed."
Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte Hawkins added: "Oh no, such sad news to wake up to that the magnificent Paul O’Grady has died at the age of 67. What a warm-hearted, hugely talented and funny man he was."
In his latter days, he pivoted towards bringing his love of animals to the small screen.
He's won a BAFTA, a British Comedy Award and a National Television Award during the course of his career.