UPSHIRE, England (Reuters) - Jade Goody, a one-time dental assistant whose final days were as closely chronicled in the media as her controversial appearances on reality television, died of cervical cancer Sunday.
The 27-year-old mother of two, who married her boyfriend in a televised ceremony only last month, died in her sleep at her home in Essex, southeast England.
By endlessly poring over every detail of Goody’s losing battle with the disease, tabloid newspapers, broadsheets, gossip magazines and broadcasters have been accused of obsessing over someone who is famous for little more than being famous.
Even Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who had commented on her illness, joined the tributes that poured in after her death, saying his thoughts went out to her family.
“I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Jade Goody’s death,” he said in a statement. “She was a courageous woman both in life and death and the whole country have admired her determination to provide a bright future for her children.”
Goody shot to fame in 2002 after appearing in Big Brother, a reality show in which people are locked in a house and their every move televised.
Initially ridiculed for her apparent lack of education — she thought Saddam Hussein was a boxer and a ferret was a bird — and criticized for her behavior toward fellow competitors, she gradually won the public over with a straight-talking style.
She went on to become a regular in gossip magazines, wrote an autobiography and launched her own perfume, but her popularity sank in 2007 after racially charged tirades against Indian housemate Shilpa Shetty in Celebrity Big Brother.
It was during an appearance on an Indian version of Big Brother in August last year that she learned that she had cervical cancer. She dropped out of the show to return to Britain for treatment and later learned the cancer was terminal.
Goody’s decision to die in the public gaze, in order to earn as much money as possible for her two sons, has seen her popularity broadly restored.