Television presenter and comedian Paul O’Grady died “unexpectedly but peacefully” on Tuesday, the BBC reported quoting his partner Andre Portasio. He was 67. O’Grady was known for his drag queen persona Lily Savage, which became popular in the 1990s. The BBC report further said that he went on to host a number of chat shows and brought his love of dogs to the screen. Just days ago, O’Grady had finished playing Miss Hannigan in the musical Annie and was set to resume the role in performances around the UK.
“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,” Mr Portasio said in a statement carried by The Guardian.
“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,” he further said in the statement.
A number of people paid tributes to O’Grady. “Such sad news. Paul O’Grady – funny, fearless, brave, kind and wise. Will be sorely missed. A really special man,” TV presenter Lorraine Kelly said in a tweet.
Malcolm Prince, who was the longtime radio presenter of Mr O’Grady, said he met him on Tuesday afternoon.
“He was so proud of Annie, so happy to be back on Boom Radio, and 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,” he tweeted.
The Guardian said that he was born in Birkenhead in 1955, moved to London in his 20s and was employed by Camden council as a social worker. Mr O’Grady was noticed by mainstream outlets in 1991 when he was nominated for the Perrier award, the UK’s most prestigious comedy prize.
He retired the character of Savage in 2004.