‘Ultimate entertainer’ Des O’Connor dies aged 88

His agent said that he had been recovering from a fall

Des O’Connor
Des O’Connor

Entertainer Des O’Connor has died at the age of 88 – days after a fall at his home.

The TV star died on Saturday, his longtime agent and family friend Pat Lake-Smith said.

She said in a statement to the PA news agency that the “ultimate entertainer” had been recovering from the fall when he died.

“It is with great sorrow that I confirm that Des O’Connor passed away yesterday,” she said.

Veteran entertainer Des O’Connor
Veteran entertainer Des O’Connor (Johnny Green/PA)

“He had been admitted to hospital just over a week ago, following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire.

“He was recovering well and had been in great spirits, visited by his family – in accordance with hospital lockdown regulations – and looking forward to going home.

“Unfortunately yesterday evening his condition suddenly deteriorated and he drifted peacefully away in his sleep.”

O’Connor presented his own prime-time TV shows for over 45 years.

He was known for shows like Today With Des And Mel and Des O’Connor Tonight.

His agent said: “Des, who was 88, was so well loved by absolutely everyone. He was a joy to work with – he was talented, fun, positive, enthusiastic, kind and a total professional.

SHOWBIZ OConnor
Des O’Connor and Melanie Sykes (PA)

“He loved life, and considered enthusiasm almost as important as oxygen. He adored his family – they were everything to him. He is survived by his wife Jodie, their son Adam and his four daughters, Karin, TJ, Samantha and Kristina.

“Jodie’s world is shattered, she and Adam and Des’s daughters are hurting more than you could possibly imagine.

“Des was the ultimate entertainer.

“He loved being on stage – entertaining a live audience. He always said the sound of laughter was like the sound of heavenly music.

“He had a fabulous international TV career, presenting his own prime-time TV shows for over 45 years. On stage he starred at almost every leading venue throughout the world.”

Sykes paid tribute to O’Connor saying it was an “education and a privilege to work with him”.

She wrote on Instagram: “Des had the softest hands of anyone I ever met and the kindest of hearts.

“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.

“When he chose me to be his co host on the ‘Today’ daytime show it was one the greatest days of my professional life. It was an education and a privilege to work with him for the years that followed.

“We worked long hours but always laughed lots, not least because when it it was showtime he would always tell me I looked like robbers dog! These years I will never forget and nor will I forget him. Darling Des you will be forever missed. Melanie x”.

O’Connor launched his showbiz career in the mid-1950s and first began fronting his own TV show in 1963.

The four-times married star has appeared on stages around the world including hundreds of shows at the London Palladium.

Des O’Connor death
Des O’Connor (right) with Eric Morecambe (PA)

He had his own US TV programme and his chat show Des O’Connor Tonight was a British television staple for a quarter of a century.

He also hosted Channel 4 quiz show Countdown with Carol Vorderman, with the pair bowing out together in 2008.

Aged 75 in 2007, he married singer-songwriter Jodie Brooke Wilson, then 38, four years after he first proposed and 17 years after they first got together.

They had a son three years before the wedding.

He had four daughters from his three previous marriages.

His singing career saw him sell 16 million records and spend 117 weeks in top 10 of the charts.

O’Connor was made a CBE for his services to entertainment and broadcasting.

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