Legendary singer and TV host Cilla Black captured the hearts of the nation with her quick wit, Liverpool accent and catchphrases like ‘a lorra lorra rit’
Cilla Black was one of Britain’s most beloved TV presenters when she died in 2015.
The national treasure rose to fame as a singer scoring number 1 hits like Any Who Had A Heart and You’re My World in the Swinging Sixties.
She later went on to present hit TV shows Blind Date, The Moment of Truth and Surprise, Surprise, cementing her favorite TV status.
But tragically, Cilla died after a fall at her Spanish villa on August 1, 2015 at the age of 72.
This week the star, who celebrated more than 50 years in show business during her long and successful career, would have turned 79.
Here we look back at how she made her £15million fortune and her last wishes.
Story of rags to riches
Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White on May 27, 1943, it was not an easy start to life for Cilla growing up in the slums of Liverpool.
She used to hang out at the town’s now infamous Cavern Club, which helped launch the Beatles’ career – and hers when she started singing there after a brief stint as a locker room assistant .
Beatles manager Brian Epstein then signed her and she became known as Cilla Black after a local newspaper reporter mispublished her name.
Instead of complaining, she decided to keep the nickname as her stage name.
His musical career debut was recently portrayed by Sheridan Smith in the three-part drama Cilla.
During this time she recorded two number 1 singles, dueting with the Beatles, Cliff Richard and Dusty Springfield, and toured the world.
In 1978, Cilla was offered her own BBC entertainment show which saw her sing, dance and interview celebrities.
This sparked the start of her television career which made her a household name in the 80s and 90s.
Hit series Blind Date, Surprise, Surprise and The Moment of Truth followed and the nation lovingly called her “our Cilla” and used her catchphrases such as “a lorra lorra rit”.
One of her last television appearances was in the 2011 ITV comedy Benidorm in which she played herself.
During her singing career, Cilla met Bobby Willis, a talent agent who became her manager and later her husband.
The couple married in 1969 and had three sons together, Robert, Jack and Ben.
They also had a daughter, Ellen, who sadly passed away shortly after birth.
Family was more important to Cilla than fame. She told the Mail: ‘I remember thinking ‘To hell with the singing, I want a family’.
“When our first son, Robert, was born, I remember Bobby saying, ‘That’s it. It’s complete. And it was.’
A fortune of £15 million
Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
When he died, Cilla’s estate was listed in his will as being worth £15,217,454.
The beneficiaries were his three sons, who were to receive just over £3million each after paying around £5.95million in inheritance tax.
However, due to their £2million Spanish mansion and £1.5million penthouse in Barbados, the trio were expected to get a bit more as they are not included in their UK estate.
A year after her death, Cilla’s sons put the eight-bedroom Buckinghamshire mansion – where she lived for 45 years in the village of Denham – on the market for £4.5million.
The impressive property included a tennis court, leisure complex, indoor pool and spa.
Gift to the housekeeper
INS News Agency Ltd)
As well as her three sons, Cilla also left £20,000 to her housekeeper Penny Walker.
The star considered the employee “part of the family” after working for her for more than three decades.
Penny even lived in a detached cottage on the grounds of Cilla Manor in Buckinghamshire for 30 years.
Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
The star’s dying wish was to be buried as “Cilla the Singer” in her hometown of Liverpool.
Her funeral took place on August 20, 2015 at St Mary’s Church in Woolton before she was laid to rest next to her parents, John and Priscilla.
His great friends Cliff Richard, Paul O’Grady and Christopher Biggins paid tribute to the beloved artist. While his son Robert gave a moving eulogy.
In 2016, a life-size bronze statue of Cilla was unveiled outside the Cavern Club as a lasting tribute to the star.
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