LONDON (Reuters) - British television chat show host and radio disc jockey Simon Dee has died of bone cancer at the age of 74, his daughter told the BBC.
His Saturday evening “Dee Time” program was one of the most popular television shows of the late 1960s with a peak audience of 15 million.
Dee was one of the first disc jockeys to join the BBC’s new Radio One after starting his career on the pirate station Radio Caroline in 1964.
His 1967-69 BBC TV chat show captured the spirit of the “swinging sixties,” with closing credits showing Dee driving off with a miniskirted female companion in an E-type Jaguar sports car.
He also presented BBC TV’s “Top of the Pops” music program and had cameo film roles in “The Italian Job” in 1969 and “Doctor in Trouble” in 1970.
Dee’s star waned after he moved to commercial rival London Weekend Television following a dispute over pay, and virtually disappeared from the airwaves.
Out of work, he was forced to seek unemployment benefits, spent time in jail for unpaid debts and even became a bus driver.
Fellow disc jockey Johnnie Walker said that in his later years, Dee had come to terms with his switchback career.
“He was very philosophical about the way his life worked,” Walker told BBC television. “It was a very quick rollercoaster for him — he shot up, huge fame, and then disappeared down the other side quite quick.”
Although his time in the limelight was short, his image endured into the late 1990s, and actress Liz Hurley said Hollywood based the spoof 1960s spy Austin Powers partly on Dee’s flamboyant character.
His daughter Domino Henty-Dodd told the BBC Dee’s bone cancer had been diagnosed only weeks ago and could not be treated.
“It happened very, very quickly. He was dearly loved by his family.”
Reporting by Tim Castle, editing by Tim Pearce