STARS from across the showbiz world have paid tribute to “national treasure” Cilla Black after she was found dead yesterday at the age of 72.
The TV legend, who fronted Surprise Surprise and Blind Date before later suffering from hearing problems and arthritis, reportedly died overnight after flying to her Spanish home in Estepona on the Costa del Sol.
In May 1968 she paid a visit to the offices of the Evening News, dazzling staff and posing for photos while sitting at a desk reading the paper.
Liam Rudden, Evening News entertainment editor, said: “Cilla was one of a rare breed in that she made the transition from pop star to TV celebrity effortlessly.
“For more than three decades she was the face of Saturday night TV, and was loved by millions. From humble beginnings she was the working-class face of TV, inspiring many who came after. Showbusiness has lost a legend in the true sense of the word.”
Black, who was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White in Liverpool, rose to fame as a successful singer in the 1960s before transforming herself into one of the nation’s favourite TV hosts.
A friend of The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein, she scored two number ones in 1964 – Anyone Who Had A Heart and You’re My World – as well as enjoying a host of other hits.
The tributes were led by Sir Cliff Richard, who said he would miss his “outrageous” friend dearly, adding: “Some people will always be with us and Cilla is one of those people.”
“I will always think of her as outrageous, funny, incredibly gifted but above all full of heart.
“She was a very special person, and I have lost a very wonderful friend, I will miss her dearly. God bless her.”
Spanish police said they believed the star died from natural causes as figures from across the entertainment industry and politics expressed their shock on social media.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed Black was one of her “childhood idols” and said she was “so sad” to hear of the performer’s death, adding: “My earliest memory of having a tantrum was over Cilla. I wanted her album. My mum and dad said no, my grandad said yes. I was four.”
Meanwhile, music mogul and former manager of Simple Minds, Bruce Findlay, tweeted: “Very sad to hear Cilla Black has died. Everyone of my generation felt they ‘knew’ Cilla. We’ll miss you. RIP.”