Max Bygraves, the English comedian, presenter and variety performer, has died at his home in Australia at the age of 89.
The veteran entertainer died peacefully in his sleep at home in Hope Island, Queensland, on Friday night, his agent said.
“His death is a great loss to the entertainment profession and a great loss to all of his friends in the industry,” said Johnny Mans.
Bygraves emigrated to Australia with his wife, Blossom, who died last year. His family said this year that Bygraves was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mans said Bygraves had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago. “He had become confused and often wasn’t sure where he was. He was in good health otherwise but would have turned 90 on October 16 so was pretty ancient. We were hoping to do a big concert for him soon,” he said.
Bygraves was best known for presenting the gameshow Family Fortunes and his appearances at the Royal Variety Show. He released several Singalongamax records, which made his fortune.
He was brought up in Bermondsey and was a schoolboy chorister at Westminster Cathedral. During the second world war he was rejected by the Royal Air Force for poor eyesight and became an entertainer.
His catchphrase was “I wanna tell you a story”, and he portrayed Charley Moon in the film of the same name.
The broadcaster Ed Stewart said his friend was a unique talent who had given “a lot of pleasure to a lot of people”. The former radio presenter told BBC News: “He as a person never dated. He was a great character with a great sense of humour, a lovely family and it’s just a shame that he’s gone, but at nearly 90, he had a good run.
“He was a unique talent, and everything he sang and everything he did, just about, made money for him and the family. Like everybody else in those days, he was viewed with a lot of respect. He was an entertainer through and through,” Stewart said.
Bygraves is survived by three children with his late wife and three other children.
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