British TV host, comedian and actor Paul O’Grady died “unexpectedly but peacefully” on Tuesday evening according to a statement by his husband which was provided to local media. He was 67.
Known for his drag queen persona Lily Savage as well as hosting several TV game and talk shows, the multi-award winning O’Grady was also a radio personality.
One of his most recent TV appearances was in 2022 with now Queen Consort Camilla for an episode of ITV’s For the Love of Dogs, a series O’Grady helped launch in 2012 which follows the staff at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. More recently, he had been on tour playing Miss Hannigan in a touring version of Annie.
Said husband Andre Portasio in the statement, “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… 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.”
O’Grady began developing Lily Savage in the 1970s and performed as Savage in a solo show that ran for eight years at London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern. The character made a name by speaking out about LGBT issues. O’Grady later hosted The Lily Savage Show for a short 1997 stint and then hosted a rebooted version of BBC gameshow Blankety Blank.
Other credits include BAFTA-winning The Paul O’Grady Show which had runs on both ITV and Channel 4, Paul O’Grady’s Saturday Night Line Up and the 2017 reboot of Blind Date for Channel 5.
Last summer, he presented his final BBC Radio 2 show after hosting the Sunday afternoon program for 14 years.