Iconic entertainer Lionel Blair dies at the age of 92
Iconic entertainer Lionel Blair has died at the age of 92.
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The sad news was confirmed by his agent. He was best known to audiences as a team captain on the charades-style TV show Give Us A Clue in the 1980s, and more recently, he appeared on shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and The Real Marigold Hotel.
Lionel died at the age of 92
The singer's career spanned seven decades and he was beloved for his work as a TV presenter, actor and dancer, becoming lifelong friends with rat pack star Sammy Davis Jr.
Born in Canada in 1928, he moved to the UK at the age of two and first began performing as a young boy in air raid shelters during World War Two.
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He grew up in Stamford Hill, north London, and was evacuated to Oxford when the war broke out. However his father moved them back to the city in the middle of the war, when they saw a German plan crash in the countryside.
He was best known to audiences as a team captain on Give Us A Clue
When his father died Lionel began to work full time as an actor at the age of 13, appearing in musicals with his elder sister Joyce.
He performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford but it was as a dancer he was to find real fame, as he formed the troupe Lionel Blair and His Dancers, who became regulars on TV variety shows.
In 1961, he stepped onto the stage of London's Prince of Wales Theatre for the Royal Variety Command Performance accompanied by none other than Sammy Davis Jr and the pair enjoyeda career-defining moment as they danced for the Queen mother in a dance-off.
Lionel, Sammy and Lionel's sister Joyce in 1961
The sketch saw 'Savile Row shop assistant' Lionel teach 'gauche American' Sammy how to be posh but the act became more silly and more competitive, as they tried to out-dance each other.
"People still say, almost in a derogatory way, 'Oh, you're a dancer'. Or, 'You're so showbiz'," he shared in 2018. "Well, what's wrong with that? I am. I love it. I'm thrilled to have been part of showbiz for so many years."
He married his wife Susan and in 2017 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Lionel is survived by his wife and their three children and three grandchildren.