Bruce Forsyth spoke to Gloria Parks once a week until her death
Bruce Forsyth helped a cancer patient from Darlington cope with her final years through a series of phone calls.
The Strictly Come Dancing co-host contacted Gloria Park after she told Marie Curie Cancer Care nurses her greatest wish was to hear from him.
Despite not previously knowing her, he rang every week, sometimes speaking for more than an hour at a time.
Mrs Park died of breast cancer at the age of 56, in 1997, but her family has only now spoken about the calls.
Her son, William Park, said: "She was really ill in hospital.
"There were some days when she was so down that she didn't want to speak at all.
"But he would talk to her on the phone, for an hour or an hour and 20 minutes, just to cheer her up.
"I think that kept her going in the last years."
When she died he was invited to her funeral, but did not attend as he did not want the occasion to be about him. Instead, he sent flowers.
The TV star's spokesman said: "It was the kind of thing Bruce does all the time but it was a private matter, and it was meant to remain private."