Cilla Black's vast riches and incredible generosity explored as she would have turned 79


Cilla Black and Bobby Willis interviewed in 1993

Cilla Black was perhaps one of the country’s best-loved TV presenters, having risen to fame as a powerhouse singer in the Sixties. Many will best know her from her stint at the helm of the shows Blind Date, The Moment of Truth and Surprise, Surprise, all of which awarded her a TV star status. Tragically, Black passed away at her Spanish villa in 2015 after a stroke following a fall, aged just 72.

This past week saw many up and down the country celebrate what would have been Black’s 79th birthday on May 27, as well as marking 50 years in front of the camera and behind the microphone.

In the aftermath of her passing, reports hit the headlines about how generous she was and how she had left vast riches to both her family and those close to her.

She left a £15million fortune — amassed over her entire career — to her three sons.

Each of them, Robert Willis, Ben Willis, and Jack Willis, were handed just over £3million each after paying around £5.95 million in inheritance tax.

Cilla Black: The renowned singer sadly passed away aged 72 in 2015

Cilla Black: The renowned singer sadly passed away aged 72 in 2015 (Image: GETTY)

TV star: In later life she became something of a TV personality with her own show

TV star: In later life she became something of a TV personality with her own show (Image: GETTY)

But due to her £2million Spanish mansion and £1.5million Barbados penthouse, the three were expected to get slightly more as they were not included as part of Black’s UK estate, according to the Mirror.

She lived in an eight-bedroom Buckinghamshire mansion for 45 years in the village of Denham, and after her death, the trio put the property on the market for £4.5million.

A huge home, it had a tennis court, leisure complex and indoor pool and spa, as well as lush green surroundings.

Indicating what Black was truly like as a person, it was also found out that she left her housekeeper, Penny Walker, £20,000.

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Swinging Sixties: She rose to stardom during Britain's pop culture revolution

Swinging Sixties: She rose to stardom during Britain’s pop culture revolution (Image: GETTY)

Walker had worked for Black for more than three decades and was seen by her as “part of the family”, even living in a detached cottage on the grounds of Black’s Buckinghamshire mansion for 30 years.

A source told The Sun at the time: “She adored her sons and treated Penny as part of the family.”

Black was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White on 27 May, 1943 in a working-class area of Liverpool.

She frequented the city’s now legendary Cavern Club which helped the careers of a number of stars, including The Beatles, after she got a brief job working as a cloakroom assistant.

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Performance: Black pictured ready to perform, 1964

Performance: Black pictured ready to perform, 1964 (Image: GETTY)

Married: Black and Bobby Willis married in 1969, he sadly passed away in 1999

Married: Black and Bobby Willis married in 1969, he sadly passed away in 1999 (Image: GETTY)

It was The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, who went on to sign her after seeing her perform, handing her the moniker ‘Cilla Black’ after a local newspaper incorrectly reported her name as just that.

Instead of complaining, however, she adopted the name and would be known by it for the rest of her career.

Sheridan Smith, the prominent English actor, recently played Black in the three-part drama, Cilla, charting her early rise in the music world.

It was during this time, as is played out in Cilla, that Black managed to get a handful of No 1 hits under her belt, as well as performances with The Beatles, Cliff Richard and Dusty Springfield, also finding time to go on a world tour.

Cliff Richard: He was among the stars that Black called a close and great friend

Cliff Richard: He was among the stars that Black called a close and great friend (Image: GETTY)

A personality to kill, in 1978, she was offered her own entertainment show by the BBC which saw her sing, dance and interview fellow celebrity guests, sparking the beginning of what would be an illustrious TV career.

It was her stints on the hit series’ Blind Date, Surprise, Surprise and The Moment of Truth that made her a household name in the Eighties and Nineties, and which led to the country affectionately calling her “our Cilla”, also adopting her various catchphrases which included “a lorra lorra laughs”.

One of her last TV appearances was on the hit comedy Benidorm in 2011 — a series that Smith also appeared in — where she played herself.

Black’s death was completely unexpected, and among her last wishes was to be buried as “Cilla the Singer” in her hometown of Liverpool.

Legend: Black's statue outside the Cavern Club where she first made a name for herself

Legend: Black’s statue outside the Cavern Club where she first made a name for herself (Image: GETTY)

Her tear-jerking funeral was on August 20, 2015, and took place at St Mary’s Church in Woolton before she was laid to rest next to her parents, John and Priscilla.

Some of the stars she had encounters with and friends she made, including Cliff Richard, Paul O’Grady and Christopher Biggins, led tributes to her, while her son Robert gave a moving eulogy.

Her legacy was immortalised the following year when a life-size bronze statue of Black was erected and unveiled outside the Cavern Club as a reminder of where that young girl from Liverpool first sang and made history.



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