Cilla Black's holiday disguise

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 11 August 2015
Cilla Black at the BAFTAs

Cilla Black

Paul O'Grady has recalled how he and his late friend Cilla Black used to assume different personas when they went on holiday together

Cilla Black used to pretend to be an undertaker when on holiday with Paul O'Grady.

The 72-year-old presenter - who passed away earlier this month - and her friend regularly went away together and used to take pleasure in assuming false identities when chatting with tourists who didn't recognise them.

Writing a tribute article in honour of his friend, Paul recalled to HELLO! magazine: "We'd go away a couple of times a year to Barbados, Spain, Los Angeles, or New York.

"Americans would often join in when we were in restaurants talking loudly. They didn't have a clue who Cilla was, so if they asked, 'What do you guys do?' we'd invent different lives.

"I once said, 'She's a midwife'. Another time I said, 'We're undertakers' and Cilla sat with her mouth open. I added, 'And Cilla here is one of the finest embalmers in Europe.' She said, 'I am actually'. Then she'd sip her drink, unable to talk, crying with laughter."

Cilla was left devastated when her beloved husband Bobby Willis passed away in 1999 and convinced herself a pigeon she saw regularly was her late spouse keeping an eye on her - much to the amusement of her friend.

He added: "Bobby was everything to her. I was sitting on the roof with her once and this old pigeon landed, well past its sell-by date.

"She said. 'This pigeon keeps coming here, I think it's Bobby.'

"I looked at this thing, wing missing and said, 'The reason it keeps coming onto the roof is because it can't fly. When my time comes and you spot a manky old cat with one eye rooting around in the bin down some back alley, please don't say, 'Ah look, there's Paul.'

"But we'd scream about that pigeon. I'd call down, 'Cilla', Bobby's here.' "

(Writing for HELLO!)

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