Veteran entertainer Max Bygraves dies aged 89

 

Comedian, singer and variety performer Max Bygraves has died aged 89, his agent said.

The veteran entertainer died peacefully in his sleep at home in Hope Island, Queensland, Australia, yesterday.

His agent Johnny Mans said: "His death is a great loss to the entertainment profession and a great loss to all of his friends in the industry."

Bygraves, whose wife Blossom died in May last year after battling a long illness, is survived by one son and two daughters.

One of them, Christine Green, was with him when he died, Mr Mans said.

He also had several grandchildren.

The couple moved to Australia several years ago to take advantage of the warm climate.

Born Walter Bygraves in south London in 1922, he adopted the name Max after his hero Max Miller.

He appeared in films, stage shows and hosted gameshow Family Fortunes during a long-running career.

Broadcaster Ed Stewart said his friend was a "unique talent" who "gave 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.

"There were one or two others at the time but Max was the doyen of them all, and this likeable lad was just on everybody's radio sets in the days of the BBC when you only had the live programmes.

"Those programmes and those records of his gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of people and were huge sellers."

Mr 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 said.

"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."

Mr Mans added: "He was one of the greatest entertainers Britain's ever produced and one of the nicest guys.

"He wasn't just an artist to me, he was a real friend."

Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, a close friend of Bygraves, said: "He was one of the greats of British entertainment.

"I have nothing but lovely memories of him. He was a big, big influence on me."

Tarbuck told BBC News: "He had the audience in the palm of his hand quicker than any other comedian I have seen.

"They loved him and you don't get that love very often.

"He had a great deal of charm.

"He could be very cheeky - he was a rascal.

"He would stroll on and just wow them. He was one of the all-time greats of British entertainment - a king of the Palladium.

"He would have them roaring with laughter, singing along and with a tear in their eye."

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