Cilla Black’s £15m fortune and last wishes as star would have turned 79

Cilla Black

was one of the nations most beloved TV presenters before her death in 2015.

Before her presenting career, she rose to fame as a singer with hits like Anyone Who Had A Heart and You’re My World reaching the top of the charts in the 1960s.

After shooting to the top of the charts, Cilla went onto present hugely successful TV shows Blind Date, The Moment of Truth and Surprise, Surprise, cementing her status as a telly favourite.

However, the national treasure sadly passed away after a tragic fall at her Spanish villa on August 1, 2015 at the age of 72.

Before her death, Cilla boasted an impressive five decade long career in showbiz, writes the Mirror.

Last week the star would have celebrated her 79th birthday, so let’s take a look at her longstanding career..

Entertainer Cilla Black, likely in character on the set of Cilla's World of Comedy, circa 1976.
Entertainer Cilla Black, likely in character on the set of Cilla’s World of Comedy, circa 1976.

Rags to riches story

Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White on 27 May, 1943, it wasn’t an easy start to life for Cilla growing up in the slums of Liverpool.

She used to hang out at the city’s now infamous Cavern Club which helped launch the careers of The Beatles – and her own when she started singing there after a brief stint working as a cloakroom assistant.

The Beatles manager Brian Epstein went on to sign her and she became known as Cilla Black after a local newspaper reporter published her name wrong.

Instead of complaining, she decided to keep the moniker as her stage name.

Her early music career was recently portrayed by Sheridan Smith in the three-part drama Cilla.

Cilla Black presenter with Sue and Alex on Blind Date
Cilla Black presenter with Sue and Alex on Blind Date

During this time, she clocked up two Number 1 singles, duetted with the likes of The Beatles, Cliff Richard and Dusty Springfield, and toured the world.

In 1978 Cilla was offered her own entertainment show on the BBC which saw her sing, dance and interview celebrity guests.

This sparked the beginnings of her TV career which made her a household name in the Eighties and Nineties.

Hit series Blind Date, Surprise, Surprise and The Moment of Truth followed and the nation would lovingly refer to her as ‘our Cilla’ and use her catchphrases such as ‘a lorra lorra laughs’.

One of her last TV appearances was in ITV comedy Benidorm in 2011 in which she played herself.

Family life

Through her singing career Cilla met Bobby Willis, a talent agent who went on to become her manager and later her husband.

The pair tied the knot in 1969 and had three sons together, Robert, Jack and Ben.

They also had a daughter, Ellen, who sadly died shortly after she was born.

Family was more important to Cilla than fame. She told the Mail: “I remember thinking ‘To hell with the singing, I want a family’.

“When our first son Robert was born I remember Bobby saying ‘This is it. It’s complete.’ And it was.”

£15 million fortune

When she died, Cilla’s estate was listed in her will as being worth £15,217,454.

The beneficiaries of this were her three sons, who were instructed to receive just over £3 million each after paying around £5.95 million in inheritance tax.

Cilla's sons Robert, Jack and Ben
Cilla’s sons Robert, Jack and Ben

However, due to her £2 million Spanish mansion and £1.5 million Barbados penthouse, the trio were expected to get slightly more as they are not included as part of her UK estate.

A year after her death Cilla’s sons put the eight-bedroom Buckinghamshire mansion – where she lived for 45 years in the village of Denham – on the market for £4.5 million.

The impressive property included a tennis court, leisure complex and indoor pool and spa.

Gift to housekeeper

In addition to her three sons, Cilla also left £20,000 to her housekeeper Penny Walker.

The star saw the employee as “part of the family” after working for her for more than three decades.

Penny even lived in a detached cottage on the grounds of Cilla’s Buckinghamshire mansion for 30 years.

Final wishes

The star’s final wish was to be buried as ‘Cilla the singer’ in her hometown of Liverpool.

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

Her great friends Cliff Richard, Paul O’Grady and Christopher Biggins led tributes to the beloved entertainer. While her son Robert delivered a moving eulogy.

In 2016 a life-size bronze statue of Cilla was unveiled outside the Cavern Club as a lasting tribute to the star.

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