Entertainment & Arts

Cilla Black: Tributes paid to 'huge talent'

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Media captionDavid Sillito looks back at Cilla Black's life and achievements

She was "a national treasure", a "wonderful friend" and a "privilege to know".

Some of Britain's best-loved stars have paid tribute to singer and entertainer Cilla Black, who died at her home in Spain on Saturday at the age of 72.

Paul McCartney led tributes, calling Black "a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit."

Spanish police have said they believe Black died of natural causes. A post-mortem examination is due later.

A book of condolence is being opened at the town hall in Black's hometown, Liverpool, on Monday.

Image copyright Paul Murphy/Twitter
Image caption Sign outside the Cavern Club in Liverpool

On Sunday, Spanish police said a woman named Priscilla White - Black's real name - had died in Estepona on the Costa del Sol, where the star had a home. Her agent Nick Fiveash confirmed the news.

The BBC's Madrid correspondent Tom Burridge said the results of the post-mortem examination may not be officially published by the Spanish authorities for several days or possibly weeks.

'National treasure'

Born Priscilla White in Liverpool, Black changed her name to launch a singing career with hits such as Anyone Who Had a Heart and You're My World.

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, including Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.

"Such a shock to hear about Cilla's passing," said Sir Paul, who wrote Black's first single, Love of the Loved.

"From first meeting her as a cloakroom girl at the Cavern in Liverpool, to seeing her many times since, she always had a fun-loving dignity that made her a great pleasure to be around."

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Media captionCelebrities pay tribute to the singer and entertainer Cilla Black

Sir Bruce Forsyth said Black would be "sadly missed", while presenter Christopher Biggins described her as a "national treasure".

Songwriter Burt Bacharach, who worked with Black, said: "It will always be a most special memory for me of recording her on Alfie in Abbey Road Studios in 1965."

Entertainer Des O'Connor called her "a very special lady", while broadcaster Gloria Hunniford - who said she had seen Black two weeks ago at a friend's barbecue - called her "a true icon".

Sir Cliff Richard remembered her as "outrageous, funny, incredibly gifted but above all full of heart".

"She was a very special person," he added, "and I have lost a very wonderful friend, I will miss her dearly. God bless her."

"I am so sad and shocked by news about my good friend Cilla," tweeted Dame Joan Collins. "She was a resplendent and rare talent."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Black, pictured with son Robert last year, had a home on the Costa del Sol

Last year Black received honours from Bafta and the Royal Television Society in recognition of her lengthy career.

A recent ITV drama series about her early years saw her portrayed by the actress Sheridan Smith.

Smith said she was "devastated" by Black's death.

"She was the most remarkable woman, a true legend," she wrote on Twitter. "It was a privilege to play her."

The Cavern Club in Liverpool paid its own tribute with a sign announcing the death of its "famous cloak room girl".


Cilla's hits in music and on television

UK Top 10 Singles UK TV Shows
Anyone Who Had a Heart (1964) Cilla (1968-1976)
You're My World (1964) Cilla's Comedy Six (1975)
It's For You (1964) Cilla's World Of Comedy (1976)
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (1965) Surprise Surprise (1984-2001)
Love's Just a Broken Heart (1966) Blind Date (1985-2003)
Alfie (1966) Soapstar Superstar (as a judge) (2006)
Don't Answer Me (1966) Loose Women (occasional panellist) (2008-2014)
Step Inside Love (1968)
Surround Yourself with Sorrow (1969)
Conversations (1969)
Something Tells Me (Something is Gonna Happen Tonight), (1971)

Obituary: Cilla Black

In pictures: Cilla Black


Black had been photographed by a fan at Gatwick Airport on Friday, shortly before she flew to Spain.

Amy Kelly said: "She looked so glamorous but frail. Everyone was talking about her but no-one was asking for pictures.

"I said all of my family loved her and took a picture with her. She gave me a massive smile. She was so lovely."

Image copyright Amy Kelly
Image caption Amy Kelly took this picture of herself with Cilla Black on Friday

Speaking to the BBC last year, Black described herself as "a lady of leisure" who was "living disgracefully" in semi-retirement.

"I'm going to enjoy myself," she told entertainment reporter Natalie Jamieson. "If it be in television then so be it, but I've had my time."


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