Comedian and host Tom O’Connor dies aged 81 after long battle with Parkinson’s disease ziekte

Comedian and game show host Tom O’Connor dies in hospital at age 81 after long battle with Parkinson’s disease

  • Beloved comedian, presenter and Liverpool game show actor Tom O’Connor has died in hospital aged 81
  • Veteran stand-up star dies after 14 years battling Parkinson’s disease, family said
  • O’Connor caught his big break on The Comedians and became a household name in Britain in the 1970s and 80s
  • He has presented TV shows including Name That Tune, Crosswits and ITV’s The Tom O’Connor Show.

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Liverpool’s beloved comedian, presenter and actor Tom O’Connor has died in hospital at the age of 81 after a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, his family said today.

The veteran stand-up star spent his evenings as a math and music teacher at St Joan of Arc School in Bootle, entertaining crowds at working men’s clubs before making his big break in The Comedians, which provided a platform for stand-up comedians who work were club circuit.

O’Connor, born in Bootle, Lancashire in 1939 before moving to Twickenham for university, starred in Opportunity Knocks and became a household name in the 70s and 80s hosting shows like Name That Tune, Crosswits and Pick Pockets.

He went on to run his own ITV show The Tom O’Connor Show, a light entertainment and comedy program that aired at lunchtime and had a peak audience of 12 million daily viewers.

O’Connor made his acting debut in 2000 in the BBC medical soap Doctors as Father Tom, a Catholic priest. He also appeared in reality TV shows in later life, was crowned champion on Celebrity Come Dine With Me and appeared frequently on Countdown.

Beloved comedian and presenter Tom O’Connor has died in hospital today aged 81 after a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s disease

Born in Bootle, Lancashire in 1939 before moving to Twickenham, West London for university, O'Connor starred in Opportunity Knocks and became a household name in the 1970s and 80s with shows such as Name That Tune, Crosswits and Pick Pockets

Born in Bootle, Lancashire in 1939 before moving to Twickenham, West London for university, O’Connor starred in Opportunity Knocks and became a household name in the 1970s and 80s with shows such as Name That Tune, Crosswits and Pick Pockets

O'Connor has died in hospital at the age of 81 after a 14-year battle with Parkinson's disease, his family said.  Pictured: at the London Palladium

O’Connor has died in hospital at the age of 81 after a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, his family said. Pictured: at the London Palladium

The veteran stand-up star spent his evenings as a math and music teacher at St Joan of Arc School in Bootle, entertaining crowds at working men's clubs before making his big break in The Comedians, which provided a platform for stand-up comedians who work were club circuit.  Pictured: On the set of Gambit

The veteran stand-up star spent his evenings as a math and music teacher at St Joan of Arc School in Bootle, entertaining crowds at working men’s clubs before making his big break in The Comedians, which provided a platform for stand-up comedians who work were club circuit. Pictured: On the set of Gambit

Sir Norman Wisdom uses fellow comedian Tom O'Connor to get a closer look at a blue plaque unveiled in honor of Lord Grade at the London Palladium, 19 March 2000

Sir Norman Wisdom uses fellow comedian Tom O’Connor to get a closer look at a blue plaque unveiled in honor of Lord Grade at the London Palladium, 19 March 2000

In 2011, he appeared on Pointless with his daughter-in-law, former athlete Denise Lewis, to win £500 for their chosen charity. He also wrote an autobiography called Take A Funny Turn in 1994, which offered an insight into his life both on and off screen.

In a statement, his daughter-in-law – former athlete Denise Lewis – said O’Connor has died after a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

Piers Morgan took to Twitter to pay tribute to O’Connor, writing: ‘RIP Tom O’Connor, 81. Comedian, TV game show host, Liverpool legend and a very funny man. Sad news. Thanks for all the laughter, Tom.’

Former EastEnders actor Stuart Anthony paid tribute to O’Connor in a message on Twitter. He wrote: ‘Very sad to hear that Tom O’Connor has passed away. He was a nice man with great stories. My thoughts are with his family.’

BBC breakfast host Dan Walker tweeted: ‘How sad. I had the pleasure of meeting Tom O’Connor and he was nice, funny and a real gentleman. Loved seeing him on television – Crosswits was great. My condolences go out to his family and friends.”

Liverpool City Council said: ‘Sad news about the death of veteran Liverpool comedian Tom O’Connor. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Tom O'Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane in London for the 1998 Comic Heritage Comedy Awards

Tom O’Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane in London for the 1998 Comic Heritage Comedy Awards

Tom O'Connor and Gloria Hunniford at a 'Strictly Tea Dancing' charity auction for the Caron Keating Foundation, London, 7 November 2010

Tom O’Connor and Gloria Hunniford at a ‘Strictly Tea Dancing’ charity auction for the Caron Keating Foundation, London, 7 November 2010

O'Connor has passed away after a 14-year battle with Parkinson's.  He leaves behind a wife (photo) and four children kinderen

O’Connor has passed away after a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s. He leaves behind a wife (photo) and four children kinderen

Piers Morgan took to Twitter to pay tribute to O'Connor, writing: 'RIP Tom O'Connor, 81. Comedian, TV game show host, Liverpool legend and a very funny man.  Sad news.  Thanks for all the laughter, Tom'

Piers Morgan took to Twitter to pay tribute to O’Connor, writing: ‘RIP Tom O’Connor, 81. Comedian, TV game show host, Liverpool legend and a very funny man. Sad news. Thanks for all the laughter, Tom’

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