The legendary DJ and TV celebrity, Jimmy Saville has died. The 84 year-old passed away at his home in Leeds earlier today.
Savile - with his trademark cigar, loud tracksuit and blingtastic jewellery - was one of the most iconic TV personalities of his generation. The Yorkshire man was the first DJ (and also the last) to present the seminal BBC music show, Top of the Pops, and he copperfastened his fame - and his reputation as an all-round good guy, with his TV show, Jim'll Fix It.
But Saville was difficult to define or pigeonhole. Born in Leeds in 1926, the youngest of seven children, lived a wild and varied life having been a miner, a wrestler, a cycle racer, a dancehall manager, a one-man charity gang, a member of Mensa and the man who could make your childhood dreams come true.
"If you look at the athletics of it, I've done over 300 professional bike races, 212 marathons and 107 pro fights," he once told the Guardian newspaper, adding that he lost 35 of his first 35 fights. "No wrestler wanted to go back home and say a long-haired disc jockey had put him down. So from start to finish I got a good hiding. I've broken every bone in my body. I loved it."
In 1971 Jimmy Savile was awarded an OBE and in 1990 was knighted for his services.
Police were called to his home in Roundhay, Leeds, at 12.10pm today, where they discovered his body. He had been admitted to hospital suffering from a bout of pneumonia in September.
He would have celebrated his 85th birthday on Monday.
Savile was born in Leeds, the youngest of seven children, including Mary, Marjory, Vincent, John, Joan, and Christina Savile, born to Agnes Monica (Kelly) and Vincent Joseph Marie Savile, a bookmaker's clerk and insurance agent. He was a Bevin Boy, conscripted during World War II to work as a coal miner at South Kirkby Colliery, West Yorkshire, England. Having started playing records in dance halls in the early 1940s, Savile claimed to be the first ever DJ; according to his autobiography, the first person to use two turntables and a microphone, which he did at the Grand Records Ball at the Guardbridge Hotel in 1947.
Savile is widely acknowledged as being one of the first in England and the world to use twin turntables for continuous play of music, thus pioneering the concept of DJing as we know it today, though this claim has been disputed: twin turntables were illustrated in the BBC Handbook in 1929, and were advertised for sale in Gramophone magazine as early as 1931.
Savile later lived in Salford and worked as manager of the Plaza Ballroom in Oxford Road, Manchester in the mid-fifties. He lived in Great Clowes Street in Higher Broughton, Salford and was often seen sitting on his front door steps. He also managed the Mecca Locarno ballroom in Leeds around the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mecca also owned the Palais, a dance hall in Ilford, Essex and Savile did a stint as manager there between 1955 and 1956. His Monday evening records-only dance sessions (admission one shilling) were a huge favourite with local teens. Savile was a hospital porter at Broadmoor Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary and became a semi-professional sportsman, competing in the 1951 Tour of Britain cycle raceand working as a professional wrestler.
He said "If you look at the athletics of it, I've done over 300 professional bike races, 212 marathons and 107 pro fights. [He proudly announces that he lost all of his first 35 fights] No wrestler wanted to go back home and say a long-haired disc jockey had put him down. So from start to finish I got a good hiding. I've broken every bone in my body. I loved it."
In 1960 he presented Tyne Tees Television's music programme Young at Heart. Although the show was broadcast in black and white, Savile dyed his hair a different colour every week.
He is also remembered for fronting a long running series of advertisements in the early 1980s for British Rail's InterCity 125 (in which he declared "This is the age of the train") and a series of Public Information Films promoting road safety, notably "Clunk Click Every Trip" which was about wearing seatbelts, the clunk representing the sound of the door and the click the sound of the seatbelt fastening. This led to Savile's hosting his own Saturday night chat/variety show on BBC1 from 1973 entitled Clunk, Click, which in 1974 featured the UK heats for the Eurovision Song Contest featuring Olivia Newton-John. After two series, the show was replaced by Jim'll Fix It.
He was featured on This Is Your Life twice. His second appearance was a result of the production team's being unaware of his previous appearance. He was interviewed by Dr. Anthony Clare for the radio series In the psychiatrist's chair and also appeared in a Louis Theroux documentary.
Savile visited the Celebrity Big Brother house on 14 January and 15 January 2006. During these visits he "fixed it" for some of the housemates to receive their wish; for example, Pete Burns received a message from his significant other and friend while Dennis Rodman was able to trade Savile's offering for a supply of cigarettes for other housemates.
In 2007 Savile returned to television with Jim'll Fix It Strikes Again, in which he shows some of the most popular 'fixits' ever, recreating them with the same people, as well as making new dreams come true.
Savile started his radio career working as a Radio Luxembourg DJ from 1958 to 1967.
In 1968 he joined BBC Radio 1, where he initially presented Savile's Travels and the discussion show Speakeasy. His best-remembered contribution to Radio 1, however, is the Sunday lunchtime show Jimmy Savile's Old Record Club, where entire top tens from years gone by were played. This was the very first show to feature old charts. Over a period of time, you could hear every record that ever made the BBC Charts. It began in 1973 (initially called The Double Top Ten Show) and ended in 1987 as (The Triple Top Ten Show) at which point he left Radio 1 after 19 years. Although, he could be heard presenting (The Vintage Chart Show) on BBC World Service between March 1987 to October 1989 playing top tens from 1957–87.
In 1994, satirist Chris Morris gave a fake obituary on BBC Radio 1 saying that Savile had collapsed and died, which allegedly drew threats of legal action from Savile and forced an apology from Morris.
On 25 December 2005, and 1 January 2007, Savile presented shows on the Real Radio network. The Christmas 2005 show counted down the festive Top 10s of 10, 20 and 30 years previously, while the New Year 2007 show (also taken by Century Radio following its acquisition by GMG) featured Savile recounting anecdotes from his past and playing associated records, mostly from the 1960s although some were from the 1970s.
Catchphrases and appearance
Savile's catchphrases included "How's about that, then?", "Now then, now then, now then", "Goodness gracious", "as it happens" (pronounced "as it 'appens") and "Guys and gals". Savile was frequently spoofed for his distinctive appearance, which almost always consists of a track suit or shell suit, along with gold jewellery. A range of licensed fancy dress costumes were released with his consent in 2009. Savile was also very well known as a heavy cigar smoker, and often smoked them for the public eye. He also has a bench in memory of himself with the words 'Jimmy Savile – but not just yet!' engraved on it, in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.
He was a member of Mensa.
He was named as one of the Radio Times "Top 40 most eccentric TV presenters of all time" in July 2004. A bachelor, Savile lived with his mother (whom he referred to as "The Duchess") and kept her bedroom and wardrobe exactly as it was when she died. Every year he had her clothes dry cleaned.
In November 2007 Savile was mugged by a fan who made off with his glasses whilst in a Leeds hotel. According to Savile, he was walking down a corridor of the Queens Hotel at around midnight after attending a function at the hotel when he became aware of a woman walking beside him. He assumed the woman was going to hug him but she instead reached for his glasses before sprinting off down the corridor. He later said "I thought it was marvellous, it was just like old times!". Savile has promised his 'assailant' a box of chocolates for giving him a "'1960s thrill in 2007".
He had a long association with the Fort William area of Scotland and ran part of the Ben Nevis Race course several times in his younger days. He had a house in Glen Coe for some years and lived there part of the time. He had been Honorary Chieftain of the Lochaber Highland Games for 35 years and most years led the pipe band through Fort William to the Games. He could not do the final Top of the Pops live because of his commitment to the Lochaber Highland Games so it was recorded in the previous week. He announced his retirement from the honorary post at the games on 29 July 2006 but said he would continue as a "Special Friend" of the games.
Savile was interviewed by the BBC on 20 November 2008 when he was asked about the return of the programme Top of The Pops, revived for a Christmas comeback, to which he said he would welcome a "cameo role" on the programme. Jimmy also ran the Teen and Twenty Disc Club, membership for life, on Radio Luxenbourg. For a small fee you received a certificate and a small bracelet with a disc on it. Stating Teen and Twenty Disc Club. This was part of his radio shows. Jimmy was a Decca Records D.J on Luxenbourg as all the record companies has their own shows. However Jimmy played Love me do by the Beatles one night on his show in 1962. Jimmy said this was a group to watch!!. Well Decca said no to the group and the rest is history. Parlaphone went on to sign them.
In 1971 he was awarded the OBE,which he always subsequently appended to his signature.
Awarded honorary Commando Green Beret by the Royal Marines in the 1970s for being one of only two civilians to complete the Royal Marine Commando speed march, 30 miles across Dartmoor carrying 30 lb of kit. The other civilian was former Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones.
In 1990 he was knighted for his services in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.The same year he was honoured with a papal knighthood from the Vatican making him a Knight Commander of Saint Gregory the Great (KCSG).
He held an honorary doctorate of law (LLD) from the University of Leeds.
He was an Honorary fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists (FRCR).
He was a Knight of Malta.
He was a Freeman of the Borough of Scarborough
One of the United Kingdom's most recognisable personalities, aside from his TV and radio work, Savile carried out a considerable amount of charity work (although he never talked about it), including raising money for the Stoke Mandeville Hospital where he worked for many years as a volunteer porter. He raised money for the Spinal Unit, NSIC. (National Spinal Injuries Center). Savile raised money for St Francis Ward - a ward for children and teens with Spinal Cord Injuries. For years, he was the honorary president of Phab (a charity dedicated to the integration of the Physically Handicapped in the Able Bodied community) and has helped raise over £40,000,000.
He also sponsored medical students at the University of Leeds to perform undergraduate research in the LURE, donating over £60,000 every year. In 2010 the scheme was extended with a commitment of £500,000 over the following five years.
Savile was also well known for running marathons (many of them again for Phab, including their annual half marathon around Hyde Park). He completed the London Marathon in 2005, at the age of 79.