Cilla Black, the legend and entertainment icon has died. The singer and television host died in Spain at the age of 72. Cilla’s agent confirmed the news of her death to the BBC. Spanish police have also verified that Black, real name Pricilla White, died of apparently natural causes in Estepona on the Costa del Sol.
Paul O’Grady who was Cilla’s best friend has talked of the mischief that he and Black got up to whenever they were together. Grady, who started his career as Lily Savage, met Cilla on Michael “Parky” Parkinson’s talk show and as he told the Daily Record, the two just “clicked.”
In 2014 ITV produced a mini series on the life and career of Cilla and she was played by Lincolnshire actress Sheridan Smith. When Smith heard about Cilla she immediately expressed her condolences to the family and her dismay at the news.
Cilla Black worked with some of the biggest names in the music business and carved out a career as a singer before becoming a fixture on English television. She presented Surprise Surprise! a popular program that ran for 15 seasons. The show first aired in 1984 and Cilla had presented 137 episodes by the time the show ended in 2001. She also presented the contestant dating show Blind Date which ran from 1985 to 2003. Ms. Black always held out hope that one of the couples who dated on the show would get married so she could go to the wedding. In 1993, one couple finally tied the knot and Cilla did indeed attend.
As well as hosting and presenting these two long running programs on British television, Cilla appeared on many other programs like game shows, variety programs and her own television show Cilla that ran from 1968 to 1976. Between 2004 and 2009 she appeared on her old pal Paul O’Grady’s show no less than six times and guest hosted one episode. She was also a regular fixture on Loose Women, doing 17 episodes in all.
Cilla was awarded the OBE in 1997 and was the holder of many industry awards. She was more than just a legendary performer and an English television icon, Cilla Black was an institution. She was adored by millions and as news of her death became known, her many professional friends rushed to pay tribute to a dear friend and talented entertainer.
Ms. Black was well known for her “down to earth” sensibility and being game for a laugh. O’Grady loves to tell of holding his best friend by her ankles as they entered a window to her home after she had locked herself out. Paul tells the story and adds that she was shouting “Surprise, Surprise” as people walked past.
It is fitting that on YouTube one can find a clip of an unbelievably young Cilla singing Anyone Who had a Heart live. It is also fitting that listening to her sing the Burt Bacharach and Hal David song that became a number one hit for the young Scouse entertainer still gives one goosebumps. That marvelous voice will be missed as will the marvelous personality that was Cilla Black, gone at 72, 2 August 2015. RIP Chuck.