The sad news came through yesterday of one of Britain’s most national treasures with the passing of Liverpool born Cilla Black at the age of 72 in her villa in Marbella, Spain.
Cilla was born on May 27th 1943 by the name Priscilla Maria Veronica White but was most famous for her stage name Cilla Black. A singer, actress, entertainer and media personality Cilla during the late 80’s and 90’s seemed to be able to turn her hand to anything.
Championed by none other than The Beatles and determined to become an entertainer, Cilla gained a part-time job as a cloakroom attendant at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club, best known for its connection with The Beatles. Her impromptu performances impressed them and others. She began her career as a singer in 1963, and her singles “Anyone Who Had a Heart” in 1964 and “You’re My World” in 1964 both reached number one. Between 1964 and 1971 Cilla had eleven Top Ten hits on the British charts.
Along with this successful recording career in the 1960s and early 1970s, Black hosted her own variety show, Cilla, for the BBC between 1968 and 1976. During the 1980’s she struck gold hosting hit entertainment shows such as Blind Date between 1985 and 2003 and Surprise Surprise between 1984 and 2001. It was during these times that I personally found Cilla on my television screen.
Being born in the 1980’s my childhood weekend’s included these two iconic shows. Along with other hit shows at the time like Gladiators and Catchphase these shows controlled my TV screen.
Cilla was always full of life and bubbly with her scouse accent and phrases like ‘lorra lorra laughs’ and ‘tarra love’.
In 2007, Cilla took part in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home about her Welsh family history, with roots in Wrexham and Holywell. These Welsh roots steam back to her grandfather who was born in Wrexham. She also had Irish grandparents and was raised a Roman Catholic.
Another fond memory of Cilla was her unconditional love for her husband ‘My Bobby’. Cilla was married to her manager, Bobby Willis, for more than 30 years until he died in 1999 from lung cancer. During those 30 years they had three sons. Robert, who became her manager, was born in 1970. Ben was born in 1974 and Jack was born in 1980. They also had a daughter, Ellen born in 1975, who was born prematurely and suffered lung complications, living for only two hours.
Cilla will now be remembered by generations for bringing people together and giving joy to millions. She is sure to be hugely missed by not just her family and friends but by the television crews and the nation as Liverpool and Britain mourn their own true iconic national treasure, Cilla Black.