Tributes paid to Danny La Rue

Stars of the small screen last night paid tribute to the comic Danny La Rue following the sad news of his death.

Barbara Windsor, a friend of the star for many years, described him as a “gorgeous man”, while Lily Savage star Paul O’Grady called him the “the ultimate showman.”

Veteran television presenter Bruce Forsyth – a presence on British Television screens since the 1950s – also paid tribute expressing sorrow at the loss of a “great showman.”

Speaking of La Rue, Windsor explained she saw him three weeks ago describing his wit as being as sharp as ever. When she told him he looked handsome he asked her if she fancied “a bit then?” … “Those were the last words he ever said to me.” said Windsor, 71.

Paul O’Grady, meanwhile, recalled a tense first encounter with La Rue. “I was terrified but then we got on very well. When I had my heart attack he sent me a card saying ‘Get well soon'” said the former drag star.

A spokeswoman for La Rue Pat Lake-Smith said he was with companion Annie Galbraith at their home in Kent when he passed away. His partner Jack Hanson suffered a fatal stroke in 1984. “Danny bore his illness with dignity. His unwavering faith gave him comfort.” commented Lake-Smith.

La Rue was the first drag act to star in a musical, Hello Dolly! in the 1960s. He was also the first drag act to perform in the Royal Variety Show for her Majesty the Queen. He was made an OBE in 2002.

Despite being one of the first to introduce cross-dressing to the British public he preferred the term “comic in a frock.” The club-owner was a stalwart on TV shows like The Good Old Days and at one time was the UK’s highest-paid entertainer.