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Friday, 19 May, 2000, 21:52 GMT 22:52 UK
Tributes for the tabloid king
Maxwell and Lamb
Media heavyweights: Robert Maxwell and Sir Larry Lamb
Sir Larry Lamb, the man who introduced Page Three girls to The Sun newspaper, has died aged 71.

The former editor of The Sun and The Daily Express had been ill since he suffered a heart attack in Australia eight years ago.

He was born with nothing. He died a hero

David Yelland

Tributes have poured in from politicians and newspaper editors for the man who help turn The Sun from a broadsheet into Britain's most popular newspaper.

The champion of the tabloids' Page Three girls, Baroness Thatcher, strongly supported in her time by The Sun's pro-Tory stance, said he was a great editor who had great influence on the British newspaper industry.

Topless models

Born in Fitzwilliam, West Yorkshire, the son of a miner, Sir Larry left grammar school at 16 to work at Brighouse Town Hall where he became union branch secretary.

He edited the union magazine then went on to regional newspapers before reaching national titles such as Daily Mirror and Daily Mail.

Sir Larry
Sir Larry had an 'unerring instinct' for popular tastes

As editor of The Sun in 1969 Sir Larry oversaw the newspaper's transition from a flagging broadsheet to a racy tabloid, renowned for its punning headlines, jingoism and topless models.

He rose to editorial director of Rupert Murdoch's News International and on to deputy chairman of News Group from 1979 to 1981.

After leaving News International with a 213,000 pay-off, he spent a brief spell editing the Western Mail in Perth, Australia, before returning to the Murdoch fold to edit The Australian from 1982 to 1983.

He then moved to the helm of The Sun's rival, the Daily Express, from 1983 to 1986.

'Re-invented popular journalism'

Sir Larry was knighted by the Queen in 1980.

Melinda Messenger
Sir Larry's legacy: Semi-clad models still greet readers on Page Three

Baroness Thatcher paid tribute to Sir Larry, acknowledging his support for her party.

"I was very sorry that Larry Lamb had passed on," she said.

"He gave me great advice and support when I was Leader of the Opposition in the late 1970s and I liked him very much personally.

"I send my sympathy to Joan and his family."

Rupert Murdoch and journalists who followed in Sir Larry's footsteps at The Sun added their tributes.

"Larry Lamb towered above the editors of his generation," said Mr Murdoch, chairman of the newspaper's owners News Corporation.

"He had an unerring instinct for the political and popular tastes of the day.

"Through the pages of The Sun, he helped reinvent popular journalism."

Bernard Shrimsley, The Sun's editor from 1972 to 1975, said:

"Larry had a brain worthy of a High Court judge and political nous worthy of a cabinet minister."

The tabloid's current editor, David Yelland, said Sir Larry was a miner's son who grew to become one of the most pivotal figures of his time.

"He was born with nothing. He died a hero."

Sir Larry is survived by his wife, Joan, sons Richard and Nicholas, and daughter, Jacqueline.

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