Who was Lily Savage? | The Sun

PAUL O'Grady rose to fame with the character of Lily Savage, a drag act that gained popularity in the 1980s.

O'Grady sadly died on March 28, 2023 at the age of 67. Here's what we know about the character that made him famous.

Who was Lily Savage?

Lily Savage was the drag persona of late comedian and television star Paul O'Grady.

The character performed in a variety of clubs in London during the late 1970s and early 1980s before achieving mainstream success.

O'Grady used his act to speak out on issues that were affecting the gay community at the time.

Paul performed as Lily at the Edinburgh fringe festival annually from 1989 to 1992.


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He eventually fronted a number of big TV shows as the character, including Blankety Blank for five years between 1997 and 2002.

What happened to Lily Savage?

O'Grady said in 2021 that he wasn't going to be reviving the character of Lily Savage, saying that the material wouldn't work in society nowadays.

O'Grady last played the character in 2004, and had no interest in revisiting the character when asked.

He said: "It’s just the things that she comes out with. It’s a different time now.

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"They probably wouldn’t like the inference that she was a lady of the night — she’d have to say she was a sex worker or just, ‘Worked in hospitality’.”

When did Paul O'Grady die?

Paul died on March 28, 2023, at the age of 67.

His husband Andre Portasio announced the sad news in a statement, saying that he died "unexpectedly but peacefully."

Following the news, tributes poured in from showbusiness friends including Vernon Kay, Paddy McGuiness and Camilla, the Queen Consort.

Lorraine Kelly said: "Such sad news.

"Paul O’Grady – funny, fearless, brave, kind and wise. Will be sorely missed.

"A really special man."

Amanda Holden wrote: "Woken up to this sad, sad news.

"I loved Paul. He was brilliantly opinionated, searingly sharp and very funny.

"I loved our conversations. I can’t quite believe it. Thoughts with Andre and their family."

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Piers Morgan tweeted: "RIP Paul O'Grady, 67. A wonderfully warm, mischievous, hilarious guy with a sublime natural talent for broadcasting and making people laugh."

He was set to start a new radio show just days before his untimely death.

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