Celebrities pay tribute to the much loved singer and entertainer Cilla Black, who died aged 72 at her home in Spain on Saturday 1st August.
Black’s publicist, Nick Fiveash, states: “It is with deep sorrow that I confirm the passing of singer and 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.”
Though a post-mortem examination is due later, Spanish Police believe Cilla’s death was due to natural causes.
Cilla drew audiences of up to 22 million in the late 1960s and early 70s. Known for her commercial television, from the mid-80s, she hosted Blind Date and Surprise, Surprise.
Cilla is described as “a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit” by Paul McCartney who led tributes. He continues: “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.”
Sir Bruce Forsyth states Black would be “sadly missed” and presenter Christopher Biggins describes her as a “national treasure”.
Piers Morgan called Black a consummate, all-round entertainer. “You use that phrase ‘national treasure’ quite a lot these days – people do. I just think in her case it is absolutely right. She’s a rare example of that phrase being spot on.”
Comedian Paul O’Grady told the Liverpool Echo, “Please tell me this isn’t true? We’ve been friends for nearly 20 years. She’s like my sister. Apart from her hearing she was all right. We had a week together in Barbados at the beginning of the year and I saw her on my birthday. I thought she was well. I can’t believe it, to tell you the truth.”
Sir Paul, who wrote Black’s first single, Love of the Loved says, “such a shock to hear about Cilla’s passing. “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.”
Another songwriter who worked closely with Black, Burt Bacharach, said: “It will always be a most special memory for me of recording her on Alfie in Abbey Road Studios in 1965.”
Sir Cliff Richard recalls 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.”
Old friend, Jimmy Tarbuck, said: “She was the total rags-to-riches story.” Describing her as “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.”
Dame Joan Collins took to Twitter to share her shock and sadness stating: “I am so sad and shocked by news about my good friend Cilla, she was a resplendent and rare talent.”
Entertainer Des O’Connor called her “a very special lady”. Broadcaster Gloria Hunniford had seen Cilla two weeks ago at a friend’s barbecue and says she was “a true icon”.
US singer, actor and TV host Dionne Warwick burst to stardom in the 1960s and expresses her devastation “to hear that my friendly foe has made her transition. My sincere condolences to her family. The heavenly choir will add another rich full voice.”
Broadcaster Philip Schofield said the “legendary singer” was “truly wonderful” and Gabby Logan claims Black was the “complete entertainer/host in an era when everyone watched TV. She was a trailblazer.”
The prime minister, David Cameron, said: “Cilla Black was a huge talent who made a significant contribution to public life in Britain. My thoughts are with her family.” Sajid Javid, the business secretary, said she had “brought great joy to my childhood”.
Last year Black received honours from Bafta and the Royal Television Society in recognition of her lengthy and successful career.
Cilla, the ITV’s drama series documenting her early years was portrayed by the actress Sheridan Smith, who said she was “devastated” by Black’s death. “She was the most remarkable woman, a true legend. It was a privilege to play her.”
“She was so kind and helpful to me. My condolences go out to her family and all who loved her. She will be truly missed. X.” Smith added.
Shortly before flying to Spain, Black had been photographed by a fan at Gatwick Airport on Friday. The fan, Amy Kelly, states: “She looked so glamorous but frail. Everyone was talking about her but no-one was asking for pictures. I said all of my family loved her and took a picture with her. She gave me a massive smile. She was so lovely.”
Last year, Black described herself as “a lady of leisure” who was “living disgracefully” in semi-retirement. “I’m going to enjoy myself,” she told entertainment reporter Natalie Jamieson. “If it be in television then so be it, but I’ve had my time.”