“What’s your name and where do you come from?”
For many of us, back in the 1980s and 1990s, Saturday nights were all about watching Blind Date before going out. With her red hair, broad smile and warm manner, Cilla always set the nervous contestants at ease, as they chose their potential partner from three possibles. For those around in the 1960s, she was a popular singer.
So it was very sad news that the much-loved presenter, singer and British national treasure, Cilla Black, had died last Saturday, 1 August.
Cilla passed away at the age of 72, suffering a stroke while staying at her house in Estepona.
Long-term Estepona lover
She has been coming to her villa in the seaside town near Marbella every August for nearly 20 years. She would spend time with other British celebrities such as Paul O’Grady, Dale Winton, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Tarbuck and Max Clifford, frequenting a variety of establishments from upmarket Villa Tiberio, La Sala in Puerto Banus, karaoke venue Live Lounge, to Peggotty’s Fish and Chips.
Apparently the entertainer had a reservation for her preferred table in her favourite restaurant in Estepona town, Robbie’s, the night she died. Cilla had arrived at Malaga airport the previous day.
Cilla is said to have fallen while on her terrace and knocked her head on some furniture, causing a stroke. She was found her by eldest son Robert – her other two sons, Ben and Jack, were also staying in the villa. The singer and TV personality had been widely quoted as saying she didn’t want to live past the age of 75; she was suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis and hearing loss.
The Liverpudlian, who was born Priscilla White, first found fame as a singer in the 1960s, with hits such as Alfie and Anyone Who Had A Heart. In 1969 she married her manager, Bobby Willis, and they lived in Denham in Buckinghamshire.
She bought the villa in Estepona in 1996, naming it Casa Roll, a culinary pun which attracted much admiration on Twitter after her death was announced. Bobby died in 1999, and her son Robert became her manager. In 2013, Cilla celebrated 50 year in showbusinesses with a TV special.
Her autobiography, What’s It All About?, was published in 2003. ITV recently screen a drama starring Sheridan Smith, called Cilla.