Founder of 'Miss World' dies at 82

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The Independent Online

Eric Morley, founder of the globally successful and occasionally controversial Miss World beauty contest, has died at the age of 82.

Eric Morley, founder of the globally successful and occasionally controversial Miss World beauty contest, has died at the age of 82.

Mr Morley, who devised the pageant 49 years ago, had a fatal heart attack on Wednesday at the Princess Grace Hospital in west London. Earlier in the day he had been unable to join contestants at the Millennium Dome for the launch of this year's competition - giving the reason as a "bad back".

Mr Morley, a millionaire thanks to the contest, was one of Britain's most successful entertainment entrepreneurs. As boss of the Mecca empire, he was instrumental in popularising commercial bingo, and launched the television phenomenon Come Dancing, which became the world's longest-running show.

In the 1980s, British terrestrial television turned its back on Miss World, which shifted to a string of glamorous overseas locations. But in 1998 Channel 5 brought back the competition, and recent contests have attracted international audiences estimated at two billion. Mr Morley rejected feminist complaints about the show. Last year he said: "If it's shameful to women then the best thing they can do is to turn off."

For 40 years, he campaigned for the Variety Club of Great Britain, and was at one time its international president. Tony Hatch, "chief barker" for the children's charity, said: "Eric Morley was a giant of a man in every sense of the word, one of the great humanitarians of the 20th century."

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