TV star Paul O'Grady dies at the age of 67
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Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@paulogrady/ITV
TV star Paul O'Grady has passed away 'unexpectedly' at the age of 67, his husband has confirmed.
O'Grady was most famous for his drag queen alter-ego Lily Savage, who became a household name in the UK in the 1990s, going on to host the likes of Blankety Blank, Blind Date, The Paul O'Grady Show, The Lily Savage Show and many others during his heyday.
Andre Portasio, who has been married to O'Grady since 2017, said in a statement released just before 3am: "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."
Tributes have already begun pouring in for the star, with O'Grady's longtime friend Malcolm Prince saying he visited the comedian just the other day.
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."
O’Grady took over the reins from Blind Date’s long-running presenter and his close friend Cilla Black, who died in 2015, as he hosted the Channel 5 reboot of the show in 2017.
O'Grady's love for animals was also well known - the star living with Portasio in a farmhouse in Kent alongside a menagerie of pets including four dogs, goats, sheep, chickens and barn owls.
Last year, he was joined by the Queen Consort in a special one-off episode of For The Love Of Dogs to mark 160 years of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, an organisation for which he was an ambassador.
The charity has now honoured O'Grady as a 'devoted animal lover' and a 'champion of the underdog', with the organisation’s chief executive Peter Laurie saying in a statement: “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.”