LONDON (Reuters) - Cigar-chomping disc jockey and entertainer Jimmy Savile, a flamboyant star of British television and radio for decades, died on Saturday aged 84, the BBC said.
The fast-talking Savile, famous for his long dyed hair, flashy jewelry and colorful clothes, started out as a dance hall disc jockey before graduating to Radio Luxembourg and then presenting a show on BBC Radio 1, a pop music channel.
Police from Savile’s hometown in Leeds, northern England, confirmed when asked about Savile’s death that they had been called after the body of a man in his 80s was found at a house in the city on Saturday.
“There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death,” they said.
Savile co-presented the first edition of “Top of the Pops,” a long-running BBC television program featuring pop acts from the weekly chart, in 1964 and also appeared on the show’s last program in 2006.
As presenter of “Top of the Pops,” Savile rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest stars of the 1960s.
“I remember the date to this moment, Wednesday January 1, 1964, 7.30 in the evening, live, black-and-white TV, that’s what we did. First group the Hollies, The Rolling Stones, people like that and it was tremendous,” he recalled in a BBC interview earlier this year.
Later, he presented a popular television show, “Jim’ll fix it,” where he made viewers’ dreams come true.
Savile was a tireless fundraiser for charity, running 200 marathons and raising millions of pounds. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1990 for his charity work.
Born in Leeds, Savile worked variously as a coal miner, a hospital porter and a professional wrestler before going into show business.
Many show business figures paid tribute to Savile, depicting him as a very private man who revealed little of his character behind the flamboyant exterior.
“He was a one-off. He was always in a tracksuit, he was always Jimmy Savile, I don’t think anybody really got to know him that well because he was always this larger-than-life character, who did an enormous amount for charity,” fellow disc jockey Tony Blackburn told the BBC.
“I don’t know anybody who really knew what he was like, I just think he was like that the whole time,” Blackburn added.
Reporting by Adrian Croft