Thursday, December 2, 2021

British stage and television veteran Lionel Blair dies at 92

LONDON (AP) – Artist Lionel Blair, who learned to dance by watching Fred Astaire films and became a staple of the British stage and television for decades, is dead. He was 92 years old.

Blair’s agent said he died on Thursday. The cause of death has not been reported.

Blair was born Lionel Henry Ogus in Montreal to Russian Jews. The family moved to the UK when he was young and settled in London, where he and his sister Joyce performed for people taking refuge in subway stations during the bombing of World War II.

He began his career as a teenage actor but soon focused on dancing, taking on the stage name Lionel Blair.

“I really wanted to be an actor,” he said in 2014. “I was a breadwinner after my father died when we were very young and I got into musicals, became famous and stayed in musicals. But I really want to do (soap opera) East Anders. ”

He became friends with Sammy Davis Jr. after they danced at the Royal Variety Show in 1961 at the Prince of Wales Theater in London.

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He acted as a dancer, worked as a choreographer on television shows, and in the 1960s, 70s and 80s appeared increasingly on TV screens and game shows. He was a panelist on the charade-based game show Give Us the Key and host of the UK version of Name This Tune.

He starred in several films, including as a choreographer in The Beatles’ 1964 production of A Hard Day’s Night and in the 1986 musical Absolute Beginners.

He has been an annual star of hugely popular seasonal stage shows known as Christmas pantomimes, and has also appeared on the reality television series Celebrity Big Brother in 2014 and The Real Marigold Hotel in 2017.

Blair is remembered by fellow artists as an irrepressible and optimistic person both on and off stage.

His style was often called camp, but Blair said, “I prefer ‘flamboyant’ or ‘enthusiastic.’ I’ve always been a little over the top. “

Blair is survived by his wife Susan, three children and three grandchildren.

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