Cilla Black: Legendary TV presenter and singing star has died
Cilla with Patti Boyd, George Harrison and Brian Epstein
Cilla Black has died: Legendary TV presenter and singing star dies aged 72 at her Spanish holiday home
The iconic showbiz star, whose impressive career spanned over 50 years and enjoyed musical hits as well as shows Blind Date and Surprise Surprise, has passed away
Surprise Surprise and Blind Date star Cilla Black has died aged 72, it was announced today.
Showbiz legend Cilla, who also had two number one singles at the start of a career stretching over 50 years, died in Spain.
A Spanish police spokeswoman confirmed today that Cilla had died at her Spanish home in Estepona on the Costa del Sol.
She said: “I can confirm the death of British national Priscilla White, aged 72.”
“We are still awaiting autopsy results but everything at this stage is pointing towards her death being the result of natural causes.”
Police sources said they thought the death had occurred overnight and they believed Cilla, who suffered from hearing problems and arthritis, had jetted to Spain a few days ago with one of her three sons.
An autopsy is due to take place tomorrow in the provincial capital Malaga.
“It is with deep sorrow that I confirm today the passing of singer & TV personality Cilla Black.
“Details of her death will be announced following the coroner’s report. Her family have asked for their privacy to be respected at this time,” a representative for Cilla said in a statement.
Cillla’s eldest son and manager Robert was thought to be staying at another house nearby.
A pal said: “He is obviously very upset at what happened and does not want to talk publicly about it at the moment.”
A family friend said Cilla’s other two sons, Ben and Jack, were told the sad news last night and had made arrangements to fly to Spain.
Cilla was married for 30 years to her manager Bobby Willis until he died in 1999 of lung cancer, aged just 57, leaving her bereft.
They spent many happy hours around the Costa Del Sol property’s swimming pool and she also brought friends Cliff Richard, Paul O’Grady and Dale Winton.
She often flew to Spain in the summer months but also had homes in London, Buckinghamshire and Barbados.
The villa where it happened – in a quiet cul-de-sac just west of Marbella – nearly went up in flames last summer after a careless youngster discarded a cigarette under her hedge.
A quick-thinking neighbour saved the stars property by dashing out in his pyjamas and a hose after spotting the bush around the property had caught light.
The Liverpudlian star was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White on May 27 1943.
She was championed by The Beatles and enjoyed eleven top ten hits including chart-toppers Anyone Who Had a Heart and You’re My World.
Last year she spoke to the Mirror about growing older, saying: “Seventy-five is a good age to go.
“If things are starting to drop off – like the hearing – and I’ve got twinges in the morning, I do think that.”
Her close pal, fellow Merseyside entertainer Paul O’Grady, said: “We’ve been friends for nearly 20 years. She’s like my sister.
“Apart from her hearing she was alright. I thought she was well. I kept telling her she’d outlive us all. She’s such a strong lady.
“It was difficult because she couldn’t hear so it became texting but then we’d manage to get her.”
Paul O’Grady with close pal Cilla Black
And comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, who had been friends with Cilla for more than half a century, described the news as “staggering”.
The 75-year-old said: “She was the total rags-to-riches story. Totally. She was Liverpool’s Cinderella, and she did go to the ball. What a career. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful career.
“She reached the heights, she epitomised the word star. A lot of people don’t. They call them that. But she was a star.
“She was the girl next door that everybody loved and would have loved as a daughter, a daughter-in-law.”
He added: “I remember her for the stupid laughs we had; at her birthday party, the last big one.
“She was a star all over the world, everybody knew her and that one name Cilla. That’s all you had to say. Only a few people get that – Ringo, Sinatra, Presley. And that’s the company she kept.
“She was just a delightful, lovely, natural Scouse girl. And I’ll miss her.”
Broadcaster Noel Edmonds told BBC Radio 5 Live she “captured the hearts of the British people” because “she was our Cilla – there were no airs and graces.”
Even the Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute, tweeting: “Cilla Black was a huge talent who made a significant contribution to public life in Britain. My thoughts are with her family.”
Highly regarded for as a pioneer for women in media, Cilla hosted more than 500 editions of her TV programmes and was the first woman to have her own prime-time chat show on BBC One.
Andrew Newman, the chairman of Bafta’s television committee, previously said: “From hosting her own show for the BBC in ’68 to defining ITV entertainment throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Cilla has been an extremely popular and hugely influential entertainer throughout her long career in television .”
Speaking in May last year, showbiz legend Cilla Black said she is ‘over the moon’ to be receiving an outstanding contribution prize at the Bafta Television Awards .
“I am thrilled to be honoured with this award – I am totally delighted,” she said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a long and full career in television and this means the world to me.”
Cilla’s rise to stardom was recently told in an award-winning three-part drama starring Sheridan Smith.
Of watching the show, Cilla, she said: “It’s a strange experience seeing other people recreating your life… I was a bit worried when I heard that Sheridan was playing me because I’d only ever seen her as Mrs Biggs.”
She added: “I needn’t have worried because Sheridan is absolutely terrific.”
Cilla married her manager Bobby in 1963 and was desperate to be a star.
“Bobby was offered his own recording contract,” she had said.
“But I made him say no. There was only room for one ego in our relationship.”
Cilla is understood to have flown to the Costa del Sol earlier in the week.
The latest tributes to a showbiz legend:
‘It was an honour to have Cilla Black on Benidorm’ reveals show’s creator
Benidorm creator Derren Litten has paid tribute to Cilla Black.
The writer and actor – who created the ITV comedy show that Cilla guest-starred on – said it was an honour to have her appear.
He wrote: “Terribly sad news to hear of the passing of Cilla Black. It was a real honour to have such an icon in our show. RIP.”
Davina McCall pays tribute to Cilla
Davina McCall has paid tribute to her ‘inspiration’, Cilla Black.
The television presenter – who hosted a revival of Blind Date for ITV a few years ago – said she was ‘so sad’ after hearing the news the legend had passed away.
Writing on Twitter, she said: “So so sad and shocked to hear about Cilla. She was an inspiration. My thoughts are with her family…”
Paul McCartney remembers Cilla
Paul McCartney has paid tribute to his old friend Cilla Black.
The Beatle famously met the late television legend in The Cavern Club in Liverpool in the 60s before they both became huge stars and now he’s shared his memories of her.
“Such a shock to hear about Cilla’s passing,” he wrote on Twitter.
“She was a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit. From first meeting her as a cloakroom girl at The Cavern in Liverpool, to seeing her many times since, she always had a fun loving dignity that made her a great pleasure to be around.
“She had a fine distinctive voice and was always a bit of a laugh. It was a privilege to know and love her.”
Beatles’ Paul McCartney: ‘It was a privilege to know and love her’
Beatles star Paul McCartney has recalled meeting Cilla Black when she worked at the Cavern in their hometown of Liverpool.
The 73-year-old, who is currently out of the country, has released a statement reflecting on their friendship.
“Such a shock to hear about Cilla’s passing. She was a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit.
“From first meeting her as a cloakroom girl at the Cavern in Liverpool, to seeing her many times since, she always had a fun loving dignity that made her a great pleasure to be around.
“She had a fine distinctive voice and was always a bit of a laugh. It was a privilege to know and love her.”
John Lennon and Ringo Starr of The Beatles (back row centre) stand with Rolling Stone Brian Jones (far left), folk singer Donovan (second left), Cilla Black (second right) and Paul McCartney (right) as they pose with the Apple managed band Grapefruit at a launch party to celebrate their debut, ‘Dear Delilah’ on RCA. 19 January 1968
Beatles legend Ringo Starr: “We will all miss her”
As Cilla began to make her name in showbiz, she could count The Beatles as some of her pals and her first single was Love of The Loved by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
When her music career began at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club, where she performed alongside such acts as The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Ringo, who appeared on her BBC variety show, Cilla, which aired between 1968 to 1976, has paid tribute to his “good friend”.
Cilla star Sheridan Smith left “absolutely devastated”
Sheridan Smith has described Cilla as “a true legend” in an emotional message.
The actress, who retold Cilla’s life in an award-winning three-part drama, was left “devastated” by the news and shared a screen shot of her statement as she couldn’t fit all of the words into one tweet.
“I’m absolutely devastated to hear the tragic news about Cilla,” Sheridan Smith has tweeted.
“She was the most remarkable woman, a true legend. She was so kind and helpful to me, it was a privilege to play her.”
Barbara Windsor saw Cilla twice in recent weeks
Barbara Windsor has been left shocked by the death of her good friend Cilla.
The former EastEnders actress has told ITV News that she had seen her fiend twice in the past four weeks, and they had enjoyed “long chit chats”.
The 77-year-old praised Cilla as a “great singer and performer”, and also added: “People will remember her, they won’t forget her.”
Cavern Club mourns loss of “its famous cloak room girl”
A sign has been lovingly pinned at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club where Cilla began her music career.
It says The Cavern Club is “sad to announce the passing of its famous cloak room girl & performer Cilla Black”.
It helped open a door to her music career, was where she met her future husband Bobby Willis and where she took to the stage alongside The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
It was the start of a successful music career in which Black had 19 top 40 hits, including 11 which made it in to the top 10.
The Cavern Club’s Cilla Black Sign
Sir Bruce Forsyth has said that Cilla never got over the death of her husband Bobby.
The 87-year-old was speaking to ITV News about the showbiz legend, when he said: “Bobby will be there to meet her, she never really got over Bobby her husband leaving when he did.
“What a lovely performer, what a lovely lady and we’re going to miss you.”
Bruce Forsyth says Cilla was never able to get over her husband’s death
Sir Cliff on Cilla Black: ‘She was a very special person’
Sir Cliff Richard has paid tribute to his friend, Cilla Black.
“Some people will always be with us and Cilla is one of those people,” the singer said in a statement.
“I will always think of her as outrageous, funny, incredibly gifted but above all full of heart.
“She was a very special person, and I have lost a very wonderful friend, I will miss her dearly. God bless her.”
Sir Cliff Richard and Cilla Black share a joke in the Royal box
Cilla was “a national favourite” and she will be deeply missed, remembered not only as a singer and TV star but for her iconic personality and character. If you haven’t already seen Sheridan Smith play Cilla in the 3 part Drama then you must see this to appreciate what a super star she was. Check out my blog about it here. RIP Cilla.