LONDON — Paul O’Grady, a British comedian and television host who portrayed drag queen Lily Savage during the 1980s and ′90s, died Tuesday. He was 67.
O’Grady died “unexpectedly but peacefully,” his husband, Andre Portasio, said in a statement, according to the BBC.
“He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humor, wit and compassion,” Portasio said.
Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Paul O’Grady, who worked closely with Her Majesty in support of @Battersea_, providing lots of laughter and many waggy-tailed memories. pic.twitter.com/N13aBuBYCm— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 29, 2023
O’Grady was born in Birkenhead, England, in 1955, the Los Angeles Times reported. He made his debut as the salty-tongued Lily Savage during the 1980s, according to the newspaper.
He used his persona to address the AIDS crisis and LGBTQ rights. As host of “The Lily Savage Show,” O’Grady welcomed a variety of guests including singer Elton John, who paid tribute to O’Grady on social media. Instagram.
“Thank you for all the joy you brought into the world, Paul,” John wrote on Wednesday in an Instagram post. “You went places nobody had gone before and we will miss you very much.”
According to the BBC, O’Grady was the host for several network shows, including the game show “Blankety Blank.” He also used his platform on television to express his love for dogs. He also hosted “Blind Date” and “The Paul O’Grady Show,” which won a BAFTA Award in 2005, according to the Times.
In September 2012, O’Grady began hosting ITV’s “Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs” show, which focused on the work of the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, an animal rescue charity.
We’re deeply saddened to learn that our wonderful, kind friend and beloved Ambassador Paul O’Grady MBE has passed away. He will be so dearly missed by all of us at Battersea. Our love and thoughts go out to all of Paul's family and friends at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/hjfwBcu7sz— Battersea (@Battersea_) March 29, 2023
“I’ve always been mad for animals,” he told “This Morning” in 2019. “It’s all animals. I’m obsessed with them.”
Camilla, the Queen Consort, said she was “deeply saddened” by O’Grady’s death, the BBC reported.
O’Grady’s “warm heart and infectious humor lit up the lives of so many,” Camilla said in a statement.
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