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Mourning for Cilla Black

Tributes flood in for the Catholic family entertainer who died at her Spanish home

Stars of stage and screen have paid tributes to the life of Catholic entertainer Cilla Black following her death on Saturday night at the age of 72.

The UK household name was staying in her holiday home in the Costa Del Sol with her eldest son at the time of her death. Although she is believed to have died from natural causes, a post mortem is taking place.

It is thought likely that the Liverpool legend’s funeral will take place in the Most Holy Name Catholic Church close to her home in Denham, Buckinghamshire, but details have yet to be confirmed.

Following the announcement of her death on Sunday afternoon, she was remembered by Sir Paul McCartney who said: “It was a privilege to know and love her.” Paul McCartney co-wrote her first single with his Beatles writing partner John Lennon.

Actress Sheridan Smith, who played Cilla in ITV’s 2014 drama of her life, described her as ‘the most remarkable woman, a true legend.’

Ms Black, who was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White in 1943, was brought up in a small terrace in Liverpool along with her parents and three brothers.

Before signing with Beatles manager Brian Epstein in 1963, Cilla attended secretarial college and worked in the city’s Zodiac coffee lounge and as a cloakroom attendant at the famed Cavern Club.

While working in  the Zodiac she fell in love with Bobby Willis who, although a Protestant, would eventually become her husband in 1969 despite the sectarian divide in their hometown Liverpool.

After her second single Anyone who had a heart became the biggest-selling single by a female artist in the history of British music, the singer went on to have 20 consecutive hits.

Her success extended to television, fronting an eponymous BBC One variety show generating over 22 million viewers in 1968 and hosted successful ITV shows Blind Date and Surprise Surprise from the 1980s until 2003.

The entertainer’s life was also marked by tragedy. Cilla’s only daughter Ellen died immediately after her premature birth in 1975 and she lost ‘soulmate’ Bobby to lung cancer in 1999.

Cilla Black is survived by her three sons and two grandchildren.

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