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Friday, July 30, 1999 Published at 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK


Cilla's husband in cancer fight

Palace date: Bobby with Cilla when she received her OBE in 1997

TV star Cilla Black is keeping a vigil at the bedside of her husband Bobby who is seriously ill with cancer.

The 57-year-old is being treated for cancer of the liver and lungs at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London.

Bobby, who is also Cilla's manager, is undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Cilla, 56, and Bobby Willis have been inseparable throughout their 30-year marriage - regarded as one of the strongest in showbusiness.

[ image: Wedding: Cilla and Bobby's big day in 1969]
Wedding: Cilla and Bobby's big day in 1969
Bobby always accompanies Cilla on personal appearances and has guided her throughout her career.

The couple, who live in Denham, Buckinghamshire, have reportedly spent just three nights apart - when she gave birth to their children Robert, now 29, Ben, 24, and Jack, 17.

In the past she has said of her husband: "I'd be totally lost without him. I couldn't have existed without Bobby."

Bobby has apparently insisted that Cilla continues recording the new series of Blind Date.

A LWT spokeswoman said: "Bobby Willis, husband of Cilla Black, is undergoing a course of chemotherapy to treat cancer of the liver and lungs.

"He is in good spirits, has a positive attitude, and is enjoying the full support of all his family.

"The family would like the press to respect their privacy at this time."

Despite the seriousness of his condition, Bobby - whose own brother died of cancer - is refusing to give up and has banned any sad behaviour, according to friends of the couple.

Humble beginnings

Bobby was an up and coming singer when he met Priscilla White, then 15, in the Sixties.

[ image: Chart-topper: Cilla in her heyday]
Chart-topper: Cilla in her heyday
She was a typist but was soon destined for the top after being plucked from obscurity by the Beatles.

The Fab Four spotted her potential while she worked in Liverpool's legendary Cavern Club, which launched the group to fame and fortune.

As her romance with Bobby developed alongside her new singing career as Cilla Black, he decided to shelve his own ambitions to concentrate on helping her.

A millionairess by the time she was 25, Cilla had a string of hit singles in the Sixties including three UK number ones in 1964 - Anyone Who Had A Heart, You're My World and It's For You.

Bobby and Cilla married in January 1969 and Cilla is now the most successful woman on UK television. Her hit shows include Blind Date, Moment of Truth and Surprise, Surprise.

Bobby has also steered her to a 12m fortune - she was recently listed as the UK's 27th richest woman.

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