Comedian and game show host Tom O’Connor dies aged 81 after long battle with Parkinson’s Disease
Beloved Liverpudlian comedian and game show host Tom O’Connor has died in hospital aged 81 following a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, his family said today.
The veteran stand-up star rose to fame on TV show Opportunity Knocks and went on to star in The Comedians and host shows including Name That Tune, Crosswits, Pick Pockets and the Tom O’Connor Show.
O’Connor, who was born in Lancashire but is a famous Liverpudlian, originally trained as a mathematics and music teacher, but would spend his evenings entertaining crowds in working men’s clubs, performing comedy routines and honing his craft before catching his big break.
Beloved comedian and game show host Tom O’Connor died in hospital today aged 81 following a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s disease
Tom O’Connor and Gloria Hunniford at a ‘Strictly Tea Dancing’ charity auction for the Caron Keating Foundation, London, November 7, 2010
Tom O’Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane in London for the 1998 Comic Heritage Comedy Awards
He became a TV staple throughout the 70s and 80s and landed his own programme – The Tom O’Connor Show, which was filled with comedy sketches. Later in his career, he appeared in medical soap opera Doctors.
O’Connor was crowned the champion on Celebrity Come Dine With Me in 2010, and he was frequently featured on Countdown. He also wrote an autobiography in 1994 called Take A Funny Turn… which offered an insight into his both on and off-screen.
In a statement, his daughter-in-law – former athlete Denise Lewis – said O’Connor had died after a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s. He leaves a wife and four children.