Entertainment & Arts

Cilla Black died after stroke, says coroner

Cilla Black Image copyright AP
Image caption Cilla Black had a dual career as a pop star and TV host for shows including Blind Date

Cilla Black died of a stroke after falling over at her Spanish home on Saturday, the coroner has confirmed.

The 72-year-old was sunbathing at her villa in Estepona when she stood up, lost her balance and fell hitting her head, which knocked her unconscious.

She subsequently died of a stroke, and would not have suffered.

The star's three sons released the information after receiving the "conclusive" results of the post-mortem examination from authorities in Spain.

They have now been given permission to return her body to the UK as soon as possible for her funeral.

"We are devastated by the sad loss of our mother, but have been deeply touched by all the kind messages of support from her friends, fans, the public and media," said Robert, Ben and Jack Willis in a statement.

"We would like to thank everyone, especially the people of Liverpool. The tributes and condolences have really helped us through these difficult times.

"The Spanish authorities have now told us we are able to bring Mum home, which we hope to do as quickly as possible.

"We would also like to thank all those involved for their assistance with this matter. We respectfully request for our continued privacy to grieve."

Details of a funeral will be released in due course.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tributes have been left for the star in Liverpool's Cavern Club, where she once worked as a cloakroom attendant

Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White, the Liverpudlian first found fame as a singer in the 1960s, with a string of top 10 hits including Anyone Who Had a Heart and You're My World.

Her career focus shifted to television in 1968, when she was given her own BBC One primetime series, and she went on to host Blind Date and Surprise Surprise for ITV.

Tributes to the star poured in from the world of entertainment after news of her death was announced on Sunday.

Sir Paul McCartney called her "a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit" while Sir Bruce Forsyth said she would be "sadly missed".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The star was made an OBE in 1997

Sir Cliff Richard said he had been due to visit her at her house in Spain next week. "Her passing away is a particular shock because despite the aches and pains we all suffer, she was always so upbeat," he said.

Hundreds of fans queued up to sign a book of condolence at Liverpool's town hall on Monday.

Friends said Black's health had been failing in recent months. She suffered from arthritis and both her hearing and eyesight were faltering.

Former EastEnders star Barbara Windsor told the BBC: "I've seen her twice in the last few weeks, and as always she looked immaculate. That was the thing about Cilla, she always looked spot-on.

"But I knew she wasn't very well, she didn't seem well."

In one of her final interviews, conducted in June, Black said: "I don't even sing in the shower these days, never mind touring."

"I'm too old. I can't do it like I did," she told Canadian DJ Robbie Lane on the Zoomeradio's British Invasion Show.

"I know Paul McCartney still does it, but he's an old ham! I've paid my dues. I think I deserve a little bit of rest."

"I'm content with what I have done and what I have achieved."

Black also expressed astonishment when Lane informed her that Anyone Who Had A Heart had been the UK's biggest-selling single by a female artist in the 1960s.

"I'm 72 years of age and for all that time I didn't know," she said.

"Well, I never. I can die happy now," she added with a chuckle.

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