Paul O’Grady, 67, died in bed with his former ballet dancer husband Andre, 41, beside him, Avengers actress Linda Thorson says as she reveals the star’s final moments in emotional interview
- The Avengers star, 75, became emotional as she recalled Paul’s final moments
- Read more: Who is Paul O’Grady’s husband Andre Portasio?
Paul O’Grady died in bed with his husband Andre Portasio beside him, Linda Thorson has revealed – as emotional TV stars and former colleagues recall his final hours.
The Avengers actress, 75, said devastated friends of the couple are supporting Andre, who has been left ‘bereft’ following his partner’s unexpected death aged 67 on Tuesday night.
Speaking to Susanna Reid and Adil Ray on Good Morning Britain today, Linda added: ‘He died in his own bed and his husband was there, he’s only 41 Andre, he’ll be so bereft. We’ll all be there Andre.’
It comes as Paul’s close friend and former BBC Radio 2 colleague Malcolm Prince described him as being ‘full of life’ when he visited the broadcaster’s home earlier on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Barbara Windsor’s widower Scott Mitchell has told of how Andre texted him at 2.30am yesterday to inform him of Paul’s death.
Heartbreaking: The Avengers star, 75, became emotional as she recalled Paul’s final moments, saying he died in his own bed with his husband Andre Portasio beside him
The last photograph of O’Grady who was pictured with this miniature dachshund a few days before he passed away
Comedian Jenny Eclair said: ‘I was a stand-up and Paul came on the scene as Lily Savage and you were blown back’
He told The Mirror: ‘I have my phone by my bed and I just happened to press the text. It said Andre, who would never text me, really. And I just knew. He just let me know what had happened.’
After leaving his Sunday slot on BBC Radio 2 in August last year, O’Grady embarked on a schedule that would ‘overwhelm a man half his age’ – despite having to halt work for two months last year after contracting Covid.
READ MORE: Last photo of Paul O’Grady shows star posing with dog in Edinburgh where he was performing
Both of his parents died after suffering heart attacks, while Paul had survived two himself – in 2002 and 2006.
But despite feeling he had been forced out of Radio 2, O’Grady never contemplated retirement, despite his health scares.
It comes as the last photo of the late TV star and drag act shows him posing with a dog in Edinburgh, where he was performing in a stage production of the musical Annie before his death at 67.
The actor and comedian was seen smiling warmly as he clutched a dog in a photo taken three days ago and shared on Instagram.
Another photo from three days ago shows O’Grady, also known as Lily Savage, posing with a fan outside Edinburgh Playhouse, and a third snap from five days ago shows the star dressed as Miss Hannigan, the main antagonist in Annie, while holding another dog.
He was also set to return to the airwaves next month to host a one-off Easter Sunday radio show on Boom Radio.
Paying tribute, Ms Thorson earlier said: ‘He would have tea with the Queen. She really liked him a lot, and then he’d have the postman for dinner.
‘He was generous to a fault, I’ll never meet anyone like him. He cared about me and I felt that. I can’t believe it, just to hang up the phone and hours later for someone to die, who was so happy, full of life.
Paul’s close friend and former BBC Radio 2 colleague Malcolm Prince described him as being ‘full of life’ when he visited the broadcaster’s home earlier on Tuesday
Linda said: ‘He was generous to a fault, I’ll never meet anyone like him. He cared about me and I felt that’
She added: ‘He died in his own bed and his husband was there, he’s only 41 Andre, he’ll be so bereft. We’ll all be there Andre’
Heartfelt: Jenny Eclair also paid tribute to Paul, saying he ‘never lost track of his kindness, his genuineness’
Emotional: Linda Thorson began to tear up on Thursday’s Good Morning Britain as she paid tribute to her friend Paul O’Grady after his death aged 67
Comedian Jenny Eclair also paid tribute to Paul, 67, saying he ‘never lost track of his kindness’ as he found fame and success.
She said: ‘I didn’t know him as well as Linda but I found it terribly moving listening to her.
READ MORE – O’Grady’s heartbreaking last Instagram post: Star was devastated by the loss of his pet pig
‘I was a stand-up and Paul came on the scene as Lily Savage and you were blown back. Look at this! You can’t compete. He never lost track of his kindness, his genuineness.
‘The people that knew him best, I feel so desperately sorry for them because it’s terribly out of the blue. We all deal with these knocks.’
Former colleague Mr Prince, who worked with Paul on his Radio 2 show, tweeted yesterday: ‘Yesterday afternoon I popped round to Paul’s for a good old catch-up. Surrounded by his beloved dogs, he was laughing, smiling, and full of life.
‘He was so proud of (musical) ‘Annie’, so happy to be back on Boom Radio, and he was looking forward to so many new projects.
‘And now he’s gone. I can’t believe it. We have lost a unique talent – and I’ve lost a dear friend. We were all lucky to have Paul in our lives. My heart goes out to Andre, Paul’s family, and friend. Oh how I’ll miss him.’
Their tributes come after there were tears and cheers at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern last night – the London venue where Paul O’Grady first found fame with his beloved alter ego Lily Savage.
Wednesday night’s show at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT), closer to Vauxhall Bridge and the Oval cricket ground, saw a minute of raucous applause for the much-loved comedian and broadcaster, instead of a typical minute of silence.
He rose to fame on the nightclub circuit as the acerbic, platinum wig-wearing Lily Savage – a name believed to have been inspired by his late mother.
Paul O’Grady hosted classic TV quiz show Blankety Blank as his alter-ego Lily Savage
On Wednesday, RVT host Michael Twaits, told a packed out audience that O’Grady had been ‘an absolute legend of the community’. He told the audience ‘a trailblazer and a legend has left us’ before leading them in a round of applause for O’Grady.
READ MORE – The acid-tongued drag act that became a mainstream star
‘Today we lost one of the greatest drag artists the UK has ever seen, and it is this building, this building was where it happened,’ he said.
‘Eight years of doing solo shows… and also doing shows like tonight, introducing new talent to the LGBT+ scene. Paul O’Grady was an absolute legend of the community.’
He added: ‘It was around raising up the community, and when you move from a stage like this into the mainstream, when you move into breakfast f****** television… and still stay true to yourself, stay true to your queer self, and stay true to your working class roots.’
Paul became a household name in the early noughties, known for his wit and love of animals, and hosted a string of television programmes including his self-titled daytime chat show, The Paul O’Grady Show, which began airing in 2004.
He also took over the reins from Blind Date’s long-running presenter and his close friend Cilla Black, who died in 2015, to host the Channel 5 reboot of the show in 2017.
And he fronted Blankety Blank, as well as ITV’s award-winning For The Love Of Dogs.
His husband Andre praised his ‘humour, wit and compassion’ in a statement announcing his death released just before 3am on March 29.
This photo of Paul O’Grady was posted by a fan after a performance of Annie in Edinburgh three days ago
The father-of-one’s cause of death wasn’t immediately known, but he had previously spoken of surviving heart attacks in 2002, 2006 and 2014, and also kidney failure. He also had a debilitating Covid battle that left him unable to work for two months.
In his statement, Andre said: ‘It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.
‘We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss.
‘He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humour, wit and compassion.
‘I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years.’
Paul and Andre were married during a low-key wedding ceremony in 2017.
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