Paul O’Grady died suddenly on 28 March 2023. A renowned English comedian, drag queen, and animal lover, he leaves behind an important legacy.
O’Grady is strongly remembered amongst the LGBT community as drag star, Lily Savage, a character inspired by women in his own life. Lily had fans from all generations and is credited as bringing drag into the British mainstream.
He was also one of the most openly LGBT celebrities on British television for a long while, both as Lily Savage and as himself. O’Grady put his heart and soul into supporting the gay community amidst the HIV/AIDs epidemic. He used his celebrity status to raise cash for HIV charities.
O’Grady and his husband Andre Portasio are said to have shared five rescue dogs, living in their Kent home. Their names are: Arfur, Eddie, Sausage, Nancy & Conchita.
Nancy and Sausage were rescued from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home during filming for his hit TV show.
For the Love of Dogs, hosted by O’Grady, followed the work of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, where O’Grady got to meet some of the dogs and those who care for them.
Most recently, O’Grady starred as Miss Hannigan in the UK Tour of Annie The Musical. It stopped last week at the Edinburgh Playhouse.
He was pictured in Edinburgh’s Planet Bar (an LGBT+ venue in the heart of Edinburgh). The appearance followed a performance of Annie on March 23rd. He stopped by for a drink in high spirits.
On his final day, he is said to have been ‘surrounded by dogs, laughing and full of life’.
There has been an outpouring of love on social media. Fans are calling O’Grady “a wonderful talent”, saying that “the brightest star in the sky has gone out and the world is a sadder place.”
One of the last pictures of the performer and beloved husband sums up his life and career profoundly. He is dressed in drag as his character from Annie cuddling a dog in Edinburgh – two of the things he loved most in life.
Featured Image Credit: The Mirror
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