With the announcement of Paul O’Grady’s ‘unexpected but peaceful’ death late on Tuesday, 2023 has claimed another much-loved celebrity.
Paul O’Grady, who shot to fame as trailblazing comic drag act Lily Savage before becoming one of the country’s best-loved TV presenters and DJs, was aged 67.
O’Grady 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.
Andre Portasio, who married O’Grady in 2017, paid tribute to his ‘humour, wit and compassion’ in a statement announcing his death released just before 3am.
O’Grady is the latest celebrity to have passed away, following Mystic Meg, Steve Mackey and Lisa Marie Presley.
Paul O’Grady died on March 28, a statement from his husband Andre Portasio revealed
He shot to fame as his drag persona Lily Savage before becoming a household name in the 2000s
Here is the full list of celebrities who have tragically died so far this year:
Paul O’Grady, 67 – March 28
O’Grady’s death was announced by his husband Andre Portasio at around 3am on Wednesday, March 29.
His cause of death was not immediately clear, but he had been open with his health battles in the past and spoken about surviving three heart attacks and kidney failure.
O’Grady shot to fame through his drag persona Lily Savage as he rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s.
He was an outspoken member of the LGBT+ community and advocated for LGBT rights.
Tributes flooded in to the ‘diamond’ TV presenter and comedian.
Lance Reddick, 60 – March 17
Lance Reddick famously played Cedric Daniels in HBO series The Wire
The Wire star Lance Reddick died aged 60 on March 17 – just days after failing to turn up to a premiere in New York.
Reddick – who played Cedric Daniels in the hit crime series – died ‘suddenly’ from ‘natural causes,’ his agent Mia Hansen said.
Days before his death he was due to attend a premiere for Wick 4 alongside co-star Keanu Reaves but failed to turn up. Reddick did not explain his absence.
Reddick will be best remembered for his role as Daniels on the hit HBO crime series, appearing in all 60 episodes alongside stars including Dominic West and Idris Elba.
He also had recurring roles in hit TV shows Fringe, Oz, Bosch, and Lost and was the voice of Commander Zavala in the Destiny video games.
Jacqueline Gold, 62 – March 16
Ann Summers boss Jacqueline Gold died following a seven-year battle with cancer
Ann Summers boss Jacqueline Gold died surrounded by close family.
The 62-year-old was described as a ‘trailblazer and the most incredible woman’ by her sister Vanessa, after the former CEO died from breast cancer.
Her sister said: ‘Jacqueline courageously battled stage 4 breast cancer for seven years and was an absolute warrior throughout her cancer journey. In life she was a trailblazer, a visionary, and the most incredible woman, all of which makes this news that much harder to bear.’
Her famous father, the co-chairman of West Ham United, rose from abject East End poverty to a £500million fortune, died after a short illness on January 4 aged 86.
He handed Ann Summers and its four stores to Jacqueline in 1981 – today it has 80 stores and annual sales of £113.8million.
Mystic Meg, 80 – March 9
Mystic Meg shot to fame through her weekly National Lottery predictions
Britain’s most famous astrologer Mystic Meg passed away at the age of 80, after a 30-year career writing horoscopes and predicting Lottery numbers for the nation.
The iconic astrologer, who shot to fame with her weekly National Lottery predictions, was admitted to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, to be treated for flu.
Tributes poured in for the star, real name Margaret Lake, who lived alone with her seven cats in a three-bedroom flat in Notting Hill.
Meg never married after the ‘love of her life’ and heir to the Littlewoods football pools empire, Nigel Moores, was killed in a car crash in the south of France in 1977.
She became a household name when she began starring on the National Lottery TV show every Saturday from 1994, emerging from a cloud of smoke and using a crystal ball – left to her by her grandmother – to predict who would win the jackpot.
Steve Mackey, 56 – March 2
Steve Mackey was Pulp’s bassist and had hidden a three-month battle with his health prior to his death
Pulp bassist Steve Mackey died aged 56 in March after spending the last three months ‘fighting with all his strength and determination’ in hospital.
The musician’s passing was announced by the band as his heartbroken wife Katie Grand revealed he had secretly been battling with his health.
The news has come as a shock to fans, five months after Steve revealed he wouldn’t be taking part in Pulp’s reunion.
Steve married his longtime girlfriend, Katie, in 2009 and welcomed son Marley in 1996.
The band shared a touching tribute to the musician, saying: ‘Safe travels, Steve. We hope to catch up with you one day. All our love.’
Baroness Betty Boothroyd, 93 – February 26
Betty Boothroyd became the first-ever female Commons Speaker in 1992
The first ever female Commons Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, died at the end of February at the age of 93.
Baroness Boothroyd gained respect from both sides of the House for her charm and ‘no-nonsense’ style in the chair from 1992 to 2000.
The trailblazer, a former professional dancer with the Tiller Girls, was an MP for 27 years and went on to sit in the Lords for Labour for a further two decades.
Flags flew at half mast in Westminster following the news and MPs took part in a minute’s silence in the Commons at the start of business after her death.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed the passing of ‘a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to politics’, while Theresa May praised her ‘inimitable style, but also her immense personal warmth and kindness’.
John Motson, 77 – February 23
Generations of children imagined John Motson, or Motty, commentating their own football matches around the UK
John Motson – the voice of British football and part of the fabric of the nation for more than 50 years – died ‘peacefully in his sleep’ aged 77.
‘Motty’, as he was best known to his millions of fans, commentated on more than 2,000 games on TV and radio including 29 FA Cup finals, ten World Cups and ten European Championships for the BBC.
The broadcaster, a fixture of Match of the Day for 46 years, was beloved by generations of football supporters.
His death came just 96 hours after the passing of World of Sport anchor Dickie Davies.
Generations of children imagined Motty using his star voice and famous one-liners to commentate on their own kickabouts on playing fields and in gardens across Britain. One fan wrote: ‘I never met him but feel like I’ve known him all my life. Motty was the voice of my childhood’.
Raquel Welch, 82 – February 15
Hollywood star Raquel Welch became an international sex symbol after being pictured in a deerskin bikini for the film One Million Years BC
Hollywood star Raquel Welch, who rose to fame in the 60s when she appeared in the sci-fi movie ‘Fantastic Voyage’ and the fantasy film ‘One Million Years BC’, died in February aged 82.
She had a minimal speaking role in One Million Years BC, but thanks to her deerskin bikini in the film she subsequently became one of the most sought-after stars in the movie business and an international sex symbol.
The actress was particularly well-known for playing strong female characters and in 1974, she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her performance in ‘The Three Musketeers’.
The Hollywood beauty once said, ‘I am living proof that a picture speaks a thousand words.’
Burt Bacharach, 94 – February 8
Burt Bacharach composed hits including Say a Little Prayer and Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head
Pop songwriter Burt Bacharach, who composed hits including Say a Little Prayer, died aged 94 at his home in LA.
Oscar-winning Bacharach wrote hits such as Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head and won six Grammy Awards during his career.
His publicist said the songwriter passed away from natural causes.
During his seven-decade career, he won a lifetime achievement award and wrote for stars including Dionne Warwick, Cilla Black, Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield.
Bacharach vowed never to retire, saying in 2018: ‘Music softens the heart, makes you feel something if it’s good, brings in emotion that you might not have felt before.
‘It’s a very powerful thing if you’re able to do it, if you have it in your heart to do something like that.’
Gina Lollobrigida, 95 – January 16
Gina Lollobrigida was once known as the Mona Lisa of the 20th century
Once known as the Mona Lisa of the 20th century thanks to her beauty, Miss Lollobrigida was a legend of 1950s and 60s cinema, who later moved away from the film world to take up photography and sculpture.
She even made a foray into politics last year, standing in the Italian general election just after her 95th birthday, though she failed to gain election to parliament.
Known as ‘La Lollo’, at the height of her fame in the 1950s and 1960s Miss Lollobrigida was an international sex symbol and one of the leading stars of Italian post-war cinema – rivalled only by Sophia Loren, with whom she had an ongoing feud.
Miss Lollobrigida died at 95 in January.
Lisa Marie Presley, 54 – January 12
Lisa Marie Presley died at the age of 54 hours after suffering a cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, California
Daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley died at the age of 54, hours after suffering a cardiac arrest at her home in Calabasas, California.
She had been rushed to a hospital in critical condition and was said to be in a coma following a ‘full cardiac arrest’ shortly after she had been complaining about stomach pains.
Her mother Priscilla, who was at her daughter’s side, said in a statement: ‘It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us.’
Lisa Marie’s life was tumultuous, with five stints in rehab for cocaine and opioid abuse, four failed marriages – including one to Michael Jackson – as well as losing her son to suicide and a fierce custody battle over her twin girls.
Lisa Marie was a singer and songwriter and had four children, including actress Riley Keough, 33. Another child, Benjamin Keough, died by suicide in 2020 aged 27.
Jeff Beck, 78 – January 10
Jeff Beck is generally regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time
Legendary British guitarist Jeff Beck died on January 11, aged 78, after contracting bacterial meningitis.
The rock star, who just weeks previously finished touring with Johnny Depp, passed away ‘peacefully’, his agent said.
His family shared the heartbreaking news on his Twitter page along with a picture of the star on stage with his trademark shades and guitar.
A representative for the man regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, said that Beck had been ill over the holiday period and passed away at a hospital close to his home in Surrey.
He was married six times and was known musically for his improvising, love of harmonics and the whammy bar on his preferred guitar, the Fender Stratocaster.
Gianluca Vialli, 58 – January 6
Vialli represented Italy in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, won the Champions League with Juventus in 1996 and gained popularity in England during a short spell at Stamford Bridge
The professional footballer for Italy, Chelsea and Juventus died at just 58 shortly after the New Year.
Vialli, whose death came just weeks after Sinisa Mihajlovic and Brazilian legend Pele, passed away surrounded by his family following a five-year cancer battle.
‘We thank the many who have supported him over the years with their affection. The memory of him and his example will live forever in our hearts,’ his family wrote in a statement.
He represented Italy in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, won the Champions League with Juventus in 1996 and gained popularity in England during a short spell at Stamford Bridge.
Vialli would serve as Chelsea’s player-manager and then manager, leading them to the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the League Cup in 1998, plus the FA Cup in 2000.
David Gold, 86 – January 4
David Gold was co-chairman of West Ham football club alongside David Sullivan
West Ham co-chariman David Gold was the first celebrity to die in 2023.
The Premier League club’s vice-chair Karren Brady led the tributes to Gold as she paid her respects to her former colleague.
She tweeted: ‘To a great man, a great friend for over 30 years and a complete gentleman – you will be missed. Rest in peace x.’
His death at the age of 86 came just two months before his daughter Jacqueline passed away from breast cancer.