Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 16:49 UK

Stage legend La Rue dies at 81


Archive clips from Danny La Rue's lengthy showbiz career

Entertainer Danny La Rue has died at his home in Kent at the age of 81, his spokeswoman has said.

"Danny died peacefully in his sleep just before midnight last night after a short illness," she said.

"His beloved companion Annie Galbraith was with him at their home in Kent," she added.

La Rue had been ill with cancer. He made a career out of his vaudeville drag act although he disliked being called a drag artist.

La Rue preferred the term "comic in a frock".

Famous fan

Entertainer Bruce Forsyth called La Rue "a great comic with great timing".

Actress Barbara Windsor paid tribute to La Rue, saying "he's always been the star"

"When Danny was younger, you didn't know if it was a beautiful girl or a very handsome man... but in those days you wouldn't have thought a female impersonator could even be a really big name in showbusiness, but he proved everybody wrong.

"He always looked so beautiful in these gowns and wigs he wore, he looked fabulous, and he'd say, 'Good evening all' in that lovely deep other voice he had," added Forsyth.

EastEnders actress Barbara Windsor, a friend of La Rue since the age of 18, said she was "devastated" by his death, and last saw him three weeks ago.

"He kept having a little snooze and coming back and saying 'You won't go, will you?'"

The actress said that she told him how handsome he was looking, to which La Rue responded, asking if she "fancied a bit, then?" which were his last words to her.

Danny La Rue
La Rue suffered a stroke in 2006

Broadcaster Nicholas Parsons said: "We have lost a great performer and a real trouper. And he could hold audiences in the palm of his hand."

La Rue made few appearances on television, but played a leading role in keeping the traditions of music hall and pantomime alive.

In the 1970s and 1980s, La Rue was the most famous female impersonator in the world and was at one time the highest-paid entertainer in Britain, according to The Stage newspaper.

He received an OBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2002 who admitted to being a long-time fan of the entertainer.

La Rue, who was born Daniel Patrick Carroll in Cork in the Irish Republic, moved to London with his mother when he was nine.

He was a dazzling star, one of a kind, and will be missed very much
WB, Cardiff, UK

He first donned his wig and eyelashes during a naval concert party, having been sent to Singapore as part of Lord Mountbatten's invasion task force towards the end of World War II.

He went on to become a West End cabaret star and was the first female impersonator to appear at the Royal Variety performance in front of the Queen.

He was appointed an OBE in 2002.

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