Beloved comedian, animal advocate, and drag queen Paul O’Grady has passed away, but not before leaving a legacy behind.
According to CNN, Grady unexpectedly passed away on March 28, 2023 at the age of 67.
Paul’s husband, Andre Portasio, announced the tragedy, ABC 25 WPBF News reported. He said:
“It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening. We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss. He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humor, wit and compassion. I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years.”
While Paul was most widely known for his television personality and drag persona Lily Savage, his few final Instagram posts speak volumes about his huge heart for animals.
In the weeks leading up to his death, Paul was traveling and happened to stop at the Elephant Nature Park in Chang Mai, a rescue and rehabilitation center for elephants.
Paul shared about the sanctuary, writing: “I’m now at the Elephant Nature Park in Chang Mai run by a truly remarkable lady called Lek Saengduean. There’s not just herds of rescued elephants here there’s cattle and lots of dogs and cats so I’m in seventh heaven.”
His post went on to condone the use of circus animals like elephants, explaining how one particular elephant ended up at the sanctuary because her time in the circus caused her to go blind.
Paul continued to post about rescued animals, all the way up until his final Instagram post that he shared on March 13, 2023.
The post captures his love and dedication to animals. He explained that he returned home from a trip to find one of his pet pigs had been put to sleep after suffering from a tumor. He said, “I knew it was coming as he’d been diagnosed with a tumour but even so it’s awful when you lose a pet. He was the cheekiest of the gang and one of the other pigs who was obviously very fond of him is now depressed and gone into mourning and there’s those who say that animals don’t have feelings.”
Beyond having his own personal sanctuary farm with pigs, sheep, and more, Paul also worked closely with animal rescue organizations like Battersea. In a tribute post, Battersea Chief Executive, Peter Laurie, said:
“Battersea will forever remember Paul as a devoted animal lover with the biggest heart, who fell head over heels in love with every dog he met at our centres…Paul had an extremely hands on approach as a Battersea Ambassador and has been fundamental in helping our charity to communicate important campaign messages. He was a champion for the underdog and would do anything to ensure all animals live a healthy and happy life. He will be dearly missed.”
We’re deeply saddened to learn that our wonderful, kind friend and beloved Ambassador Paul O’Grady MBE has passed away. He will be so dearly missed by all of us at Battersea. Our love and thoughts go out to all of Paul's family and friends at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/hjfwBcu7sz
— Battersea (@Battersea_) March 29, 2023
Paul’s cause of death has not yet been released.