Legendary entertainer and British television star Des O'Connor has passed away. Word of his death comes just over a week after O'Connor had suffered a fall at his Buckinghamshire home. According to his longtime agent and close friend, Pat Lake-Smith, O'Connor had been recovering before his condition had suddenly taken a turn for the worse, leading to the entertainer's passing on Saturday. He was 88 years old.
"He was a joy to work with - he was talented, fun, positive, enthusiastic, kind and a total professional. He loved life, and considered enthusiasm almost as important as oxygen," Pat Lake-Smith said in a statement, adding that the "ultimate entertainer" was "well loved by absolutely everybody" and "loved life."
Carol Vordorman, who co-hosted the Channel 4 quiz show Countdown with O'Connor for years, also addressed the news of the TV star's passing.
"I grew up throughout the Dennis O'Connor years, when he was on the television all the time, on Des O'Connor Tonight and the Morecambe and Wise shows," she tells BBC. "Up to 20 million people would sit around the television and watch and laugh, and I mean laugh until they cried. He was the king; he was one of the very great British television entertainers."
Meanwhile, O'Connor's Today with Des and Mel co-host Melanie Sykes also remembered O'Connor with a touching tribute post on Instagram, writing, "He had talent in every fibre of his being and was stubborn as a mule. He was the full ticket as a friend and colleague."
A veteran of the Royal Air Force, O'Connor began his career as an entertainer on stage, working prolifically in theatre before his big break on television. Starting in 1963, he hosted his own variety show called The Des O'Connor Show, which had a successful eight-series run on ITV. He'd later host the followup series Des O'Connor Entertains before introducing his own chat show Des O'Connor Tonight, which O'Connor hosted between 1977 and 2002. In the 2000s, he also hosted Today with Des and Mel and Countdown before appearing in the 2012 one-off special The One and Only Des O'Connor.
In addition to his work on television, O'Connor also found great success as a singer with 36 albums published over the course of his career. Five of those albums managed to rank in the Top 40 of the UK Albums Chart. He had even toured with Buddy Holly in 1958 and would work with other major music stars like Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Liberace, and even the Beatles. His singing was often mocked on the comedy series The Morecambe & Wise Show, but showing his sense of humor, O'Connor would often take part in the sketches on the show.
O'Connor's survivors include his wife, Jodie, with whom he'd been married since 2007; their son, Adam; and O'Connor's four daughters from his previous marriages, Karin, TJ, Samantha, and Kristina. We offer our condolences to them at this difficult time. May O'Connor rest in peace as his legacy continues to live on forever. This news comes to us from BBC News.