Paul James O’Grady MBE DL was a versatile English entertainer, known for his work as a comedian, broadcaster, drag queen, actor, and writer. He gained popularity in the 1990s through his drag queen persona, Lily Savage, which he developed during his early career performing in the London gay scene.
Early career and the rise of Lily Savage
Born on June 14, 1955, in Birkenhead, England, O’Grady began his career in entertainment as a stand-up comedian in the late 1970s, performing under his own name. He later adopted the drag persona of Lily Savage, and quickly became a hit on the London cabaret circuit, earning a reputation for her sharp wit and irreverent humor.
Through the 1990s, O’Grady’s Lily Savage character became increasingly popular, leading to a series of television appearances, including The Lily Savage Show and Blankety Blank. He also released several books based on his character, including the bestselling autobiography, “Lily Savage: The Joy of Secs.”
Post-Lily Savage career
In the early 2000s, he retired the Lily Savage character, and began working as a presenter on various television and radio shows, including The Paul O’Grady Show and Paul O’Grady Live. He also appeared in several television dramas, including Holby City and Coronation Street, and lent his voice to animated films such as “Gnomeo and Juliet.”
In addition to his work in entertainment, O’Grady was a noted animal rights activist and served as a patron of several animal welfare organizations. In 2008, the British government awarded him an MBE for his services to entertainment and charity, and in 2014, he received a DL (Deputy Lieutenant).
Paul O’Grady’s contributions to the world of entertainment and his work as an animal rights activist have left an enduring legacy. His humor and wit, as well as his ability to connect with audiences, have earned him a place in the hearts of many fans. He will be remembered as one of the most versatile entertainers of his generation and a champion for animal welfare causes.