Stars of stage and screen have paid tributes to the life of Catholic entertainer Cilla Black following her death on Saturday night at the age of 72. The death was discovered overnight and appeared to be due to natural causes, but this had not yet been confirmed by tests, police said. Born Priscilla White, Black worked as a teenager in the cloakroom of Liverpools Cavern Club, where her musical talent was spotted by The Beatles.
Her career focus shifted to television in 1968, when she was given her own BBC One primetime series, and she went on to host a number of shows for ITV.
Prime minister David Cameron said his thoughts were with Black’s family and praised her “huge talent”, saying she “made a significant contribution to public life in Britain”.
Friends of the star have spoken about how she knew her health was deteriorating and had spoken about missing her late husband and manager Bobby Willis, who died in 1999.
After her second single Anyone who had a heart became the biggest-selling single by a female artist in the history of British music, the singer went on to have 20 consecutive hits.
Sir Cliff Richard remembered her as “outrageous, funny, incredibly gifted but above all full of heart”. “But when I was out with her, I would see people stopping and looking as they recognised who she was”.
At this time the cause of her death remains unknown.
One of Black’s oldest friends, her former manager Terry McCann, suggested she had “willed herself to die”.
“She was a wonderful lady and I performed with her many times with Tommy as Cannon and Ball”. I saw her floating around at the back here, doing the gardening.
The first Blind Date couple to get married have described the late Cilla Black as their “fairy godmother”.
According to The Independent, Black’s representative Nick Fiveash said, “Details of her death will be announced following the coroners report”. American composer Burt Bacharach flew to London to record Cilla Black singing this song live with a 48-piece orchestra in the famous Abbey Road studios.
Last year, it is said Black’s health started to deteriorate, with the starlet claiming her arthritis was getting in the way of her career and that she had become largely deaf. Cilla Black leaves behind three sons.