Cilla Black, who rose to stardom as a pop starlet in the 1960s, has died aged 72.
Black, who enjoyed a 50-year career in show business, subsequently became a popular TV celebrity on such shows as Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.
She was close friends with celebrities such as Sir Cliff Richard and Sir Bruce Forsyth, while her friendships with Sir Elton John, Dale Winton and Paul O’Grady led to her being described as a “gay icon”.
Black, who was born in Liverpool as Priscilla Maria Veronica White, got her big break when John Lennon introduced her to Beatles’ producer Brian Epstein.
Black shot to fame at the height of the Merseybeat era, immersing herself in music while working as a cloakroom attendant at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club.
Her stage name came about as a result of a misprint in a music paper. But she preferred the alternative, using it to launch a singing career which spawned hits including Anyone Who Had a Heart, You’re My World and Alfie.
Black’s life was not without heartbreak. In a 2009 TV interview with Piers Morgan, she revealed she had lost a baby girl born prematurely 34 years earlier.
And the death from lung cancer of husband Bobby Willis in 1999 also hit Black hard.
Broadcaster Noel Edmonds told BBC Radio 5 live she “captured the hearts of the British people” because “she was our Cilla – there were no airs and graces”.

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