Paul O'Grady's death aged 67 has been announced by his husband Andre Portasio. News of his passing, which happened March 28, 2023, has sent ripples across the globe as his devoted fans and celebrity friends have shared their sadness over the star's sudden death.
Globally recognizable figures have been quick to pay tribute to the late comedian, presenter, and drag queen - who also went by the name Lilly Savage. Queen Camilla and Paul O'Grady shared a close bond, and she was quick to release a statement regarding his sudden passing.
Another famous friend, fellow Liverpool native Kim Cattrall, shared a video of the pair on her Instagram account with the caption, "Our hearts are broken 💔 RIP Paul xo."
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Elton John paid tribute to the late star saying, "Saddening news to hear of Paul O'Grady's passing this morning."
"A brilliant entertainer, wit, and supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and the fight against AIDS and HIV," continues his Instagram post, "who I was fortunate enough to spend time with including when he hosted @davidfurnish's and my Stag Party before our Civil Partnership in 2005."
"Thank you for all the joy you brought into the world, Paul," continued the Rocket Man singer. "You went places nobody had gone before and we will miss you very much."
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Craig Revel Horwood, a judge on the UK celebrity dance competition Strictly Come Dancing tweeted, "I’m in a state of shock this morning, waking up to the news that my gorgeous colleague and friend, Paul O’Grady has passed away. I’m actually reeling in disbelief. He was such a wonderful human being, funny and to the point. Paul, legend, RIP darling."
Other tributes came from charities including Battersea Cats and Dogs Home and Save The Children, who praised the late star's campaigning work.
“We’re shocked and saddened to hear the news that our Ambassador Paul O’Grady has passed away,” they said. “We’ll always be thankful for his campaigning on child poverty, providing a voice for the UK’s poorest children. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.”
O'Grady is remembered as one of the great pioneers of LGBTQ+ representation in the UK entertainment industry and around the world. He was an openly gay man who had a primetime TV slot which, at the time, was a revolutionary concept.
However, long before his drag persona Lily Savage became a household name - he was one of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern's brightest stars.
If that iconic London LGBTQ+ pub sounds familiar, it's because this is where the late Princess Diana reportedly disguised herself as a, "rather eccentrically dressed gay male model," alongside Freddy Mercury so she could party in disguise.
Remembering the incident in her memoir, The Power of Positive Drinking, actress Cleo Rocos recounted the incident saying, "When we walked in… we felt she was obviously Princess Diana and would be discovered at any minute. But people just seemed to blank her. She sort of disappeared. But she loved it."
O'grady is survived by his husband Andre Portasio, his daughter, Sharon, and two grandchildren.
Portasio made the announcement of his passing on Wednesday, March 29 saying that he died, "unexpectedly but peacefully," the day before.
Only a week before his husband's death, Portasio shared an Instagram post praising his husband's stage performance in Annie, in which he was playing Miss Hannigan. "Proud of you @paulogrady," read the post, "for your commitment, dedication and of course TALENT."
As the world wakes up to the sad news of Paul O'Grady's death, more tributes are expected to flood in for the much loved star, activist, and icon of LGBTQ+ history.
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Aoife is an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.
Formerly woman&home's junior news editor and a contributing writer at Bustle, her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica and EVOKE.
Her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.
Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.
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