Showbiz world pays tribute to Max

Banbury Cake: Entertainer Max Bygraves has died in Australia Entertainer Max Bygraves has died in Australia

The entertainment world has paid tribute to showbiz giant Max Bygraves.

The 89-year-old comedian, singer and variety performer, whose catchphrase was "I wanna tell you a story", died peacefully in his sleep at home in Hope Island, Queensland, Australia.

Born Walter Bygraves in south London in 1922, he adopted the name Max after his hero Max Miller, going on to appear in dozens of films and stage shows during a long-running career.

His close friend, comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, said: "He was one of the greats of British entertainment. I have nothing but lovely memories of him. He was a big, big influence on me."

Actress Barbara Windsor told the Sunday Mirror: "The public absolutely loved him. Some people thought he just walked out on stage and did his thing, but he had the whole package. He was incredibly talented. He was one of the good ones and he'll always be remembered."

Comedian Ken Dodd described Bygraves as a "magical performer". He told BBC News: "He was absolutely brilliant - an excellent comedian, a very good singer and quite a good actor. Yes, he was a giant of showbusiness, a wonderful, wonderful man."

Veteran entertainer Des O'Connor said Bygraves had been a massive influence on his own career and had given him valuable guidance when he started out. He said he wrote to him asking him for help and he was touched when he replied with a two-page handwritten letter full of advice. O'Connor said: "I used to use it as a rule book when I was starting out and over the years everything he's said has been helpful to me."

Bygraves had two daughters and a son with his late wife Gladys, known as Blossom. She died in May last year after battling a long illness. He is also survived by several grandchildren.

The couple had moved from their home in Poole, Dorset, to Australia several years ago to take advantage of the warm climate.

Bygraves's agent Johnny Mans said he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's two years ago. Mr Mans added: "His death is a great loss to the entertainment profession and a great loss to all of his friends in the industry."

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