Tributes paid to Paul O'Grady as star passes away, aged 67

Tributes paid to Paul O'Grady as star passes away, aged 67

TRIBUTES have been paid to entertainer Paul O'Grady, who has died at the age of 67.

The presenter and comedian passed away 'unexpectedly but peacefully' on Tuesday evening, according to his husband, Andre Portasio.

"It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening," said Portasio today.

"He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humour, wit and compassion.

O'Grady and husband Andre Portasio pictured in 2018 (Image: Dave Benett/Getty Images)

"I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years."

O'Grady rose to fame as drag queen Lily Savage before embarking on a highly-successful presenting career.

Tributes have been pouring in for O'Grady, who was born in Birkenhead to Co. Roscommon native Patrick Grady and Mary Savage, a second-generation Irish woman.

'Wickedly funny'

A statement posted on Twitter from the Royal Family read: "Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Paul O'Grady, who worked closely with Her Majesty in support of Battersea [Dogs and Cats Home], providing lots of laughter and many waggy-tailed memories."

Battersea itself paid tribute to O'Grady, who was an ambassador for the animal charity.

"Paul loved Battersea so much and we cannot thank him enough for everything he did for our charity and for rescue animals worldwide," said Chief Executive Peter Laurie.

"We will forever be indebted to him for his endless generosity and support."

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the London gay bar where O'Grady honed his Lily Savage act, said he 'paved the way' for similar artists.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of Paul O'Grady's sudden death," read a statement from the venue.

"Lily Savage was a beloved resident performer at RVT throughout the 80s and 90s, paving the way for a legion of drag artists.

"Paul was a fierce advocate for RVT. Our thoughts are with Andre and Paul's loved ones."

O'Grady at the 2022 Rainbow Honours, where he was given a special recognition award for his work to advance the rights of LGBTQI people (Image: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

O'Grady's peers in television also paid tribute to him, with Ant and Dec saying he had 'gone too soon'.

"We are so very sad to hear of the passing of Paul O'Grady," said the duo.

"It was always a treat to see and work with him and he was always wickedly funny.

"A wonderful broadcaster and a lovely man, gone too soon. RIP Paul xx."

Meanwhile, Piers Morgan said O'Grady was 'a wonderfully warm, mischievous, hilarious guy with a sublime natural talent for broadcasting and making people laugh'.


Born in 1955, O'Grady worked a series of administrative roles and bar jobs before putting together his Lily Savage act in the late 1970s.

He started out in pubs and clubs before moving into TV in the late 1980s, later enjoying a successful stint as a presenter on The Big Breakfast on Channel 4.

The broadcaster also gave him his own show in 1995, Live from the Lilydome, while in 1997, he hosted The Lily Savage Show on BBC One.

O’Grady as Lily Savage in 2004 ahead of a run as the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Following the success of a Beeb Christmas special of Blankety Blank, Savage fronted a revival of the show, which later moved to ITV.

In 2004, he landed his own chat show, The Paul O'Grady Show, which ran on ITV and Channel 4 until 2009, before being revived by ITV in 2013.

A keen supporter of animal rights, he hosted the award-winning documentary series For the Love of Dogs between 2012 and 2022.