LOS ANGELES — Robin Leach, the high priest of pizzazz and an early pioneer of reality TV with hit show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, has died, family and colleagues announced on Friday. He was 76.
The suave presenter, known for his catchphrase “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” on the 1980s and ’90s series, practically invented bling, regaling audiences for more than a decade with stories of lavish living and fabulous wealth.
Leach had been in hospital in Las Vegas since suffering a stroke on vacation in Mexico late last year and died on Thursday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where Leach worked as a celebrity columnist.
“Sad to report the death of famed celeb reporter, friend and colleague #RobinLeach @ 1:50 a.m. in #LasVegas. He would have been 77 Wednesday,” columnist John Katsilometes on Twitter.
“He suffered a second stroke Monday … He’d been hospitalized since Nov. 21, after suffering a stroke in Cabo San Lucas.”
Leach was widely respected for his deep knowledge and insights on the Vegas entertainment scene, and tributes to the journalist were led by superstar Celine Dion, a Sin City regular.
“Saddened to hear the news that Robin Leach has passed away. He was a thoughtful and considerate man, and a great supporter of the entertainment scene in Las Vegas,” the Canadian diva tweeted.
Leach’s family released a statement through Katsilometes, thanking fans for their support.
“Despite the past 10 months, what a beautiful life he had … Everyone’s support and love over the past, almost one year, has been incredible and we are so grateful,” it said.
Leach, who was born in Britain but moved to the US in his 20s, was a celebrity reporter for newspapers and magazines in both countries, including the Daily Mail, People, and New York Daily News.
He became a key figure in the nascent reality television sector with the launch in 1984 of the syndicated Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which gave viewers peeks inside celebrity homes until 1995.
“Now an eternity of champagne and caviar. We’ve lost a dear, dear friend and a wonderful man. Rest in peace Robin Leach,” said Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman. — AFP