Tributes pour in for Max Bygraves

Singer Max Bygraves has died in Australia

Comedian, singer and variety performer Max Bygraves who has died aged 89, pictured in 1986

Comedians Max Bygraves, left, and Frankie Howerd pictured in 1950

First published in National News © by

Tributes have poured in for "giant of showbusiness" Max Bygraves, who has died aged 89.

The comedian, singer and variety performer died peacefully in his sleep at home in Hope Island, Queensland, Australia, on Friday.

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."

Comedian Ken Dodd described Bygraves as a "magical performer", telling 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. He was a quiet, gentle, modest man, but once he entered that stage something happened, a transformation took place, it was like a miracle."

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.

Chirpy cockney Bygraves, one of nine children, lived in a council flat in Rotherhithe but went on to become a multi-millionaire. He became famous for his catchphrase: "I wanna tell you a story" and recorded songs including You Need Hands and Tulips From Amsterdam.

Bygraves's agent Johnny Mans said he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's two years ago.

"He had become confused and often wasn't sure where he was," he said. "He was in good health otherwise but would have turned 90 on October 16 so was pretty ancient. We were hoping to do a big concert for him soon. His death is a great loss to the entertainment profession and a great loss to all of his friends in the industry. He was one of the greatest entertainers Britain's ever produced and one of the nicest guys. He wasn't just an artist to me, he was a real friend."

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