|Born||Desmond Bernard O'Connor
12 January 1932
Stepney, East London, England
|Occupation||Broadcaster, musician, comedian|
|Years active||1956–2012 (semi-retired)|
|Television||The Des O'Connor Show (1963–71)
Des O'Connor Entertains (1974–76)
Des O'Connor Tonight (1977–2002)
Take Your Pick (1992–98)
Today with Des and Mel (2002–06)
|Spouse(s)||Phyllis Gill (m. 1953–59) (divorced); 1 daughter
Gillian Vaughan (m. 1960–82) (divorced); 2 daughters
Jay Rufer (m. 1985–90) (divorced); 1 daughter
Jodie Brooke Wilson (m. 2011); 1 son, Adam.
Desmond Bernard "Des" O'Connor, CBE (born 12 January 1932) is an English comedian and singer. A former chat show host, he was the presenter of the long-running Channel 4 gameshow Countdown for two years. He has also recorded 36 albums and has had four top-ten singles, including a number-one hit with "I Pretend".
O'Connor was born on 12 January 1932 in Stepney, East London to an English-Jewish mother Maude (née Bassett) and an Irish father Harry O'Connor. O'Connor has a sister, Patricia, who is one year his junior. He wrote in his autobiography, Bananas Can't Fly!, that he is probably the only O'Connor ever to have had a Bar Mitzvah. He was evacuated to Northampton during World War II and was briefly a professional footballer with Northampton Town. After completing his National Service in the Royal Air Force, he worked as a shoe salesman before entering show business. Before his break in television, his first theatre appearances were in variety, where he appeared in venues throughout the country.
He has worked with many personalities of the day, from rock and pop stars, actors and TV performers, to politicians, princes, to luminaries such as Frank Sinatra, Adam Faith, Sean Connery, Liberace, The Beatles, Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Cilla Black, Tony Blair, and members of the Royal Family.
On 3 December 2012, O'Connor was invited to celebrate 100 years of the Royal Variety Performance.
Des O'Connor has starred in a mainstream TV show in almost every year since 1963, a feat that only one other television personality has achieved worldwide (US game show host Bob Barker, who hosted mainstream television shows from 1956 until 2007, with 1966-1972 being in syndication). In 2001, he was presented with the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards for his contributions to television.
Notable shows hosted by Des O'Connor:
- The Des O'Connor Show (1963–1971)
- Des O'Connor Entertains (1974–76) - A variety show with guest stars, featuring singing, dancing and comedy sketches.
- Des O'Connor Tonight (1977–2002) - A celebrity chatshow that also featured music and comedy.
- Take Your Pick (1992–98)
- Today with Des and Mel (2002–06) - A live afternoon chat and light entertainment show co-hosted by Melanie Sykes. On 12 May 2006, ITV announced that the show would be one of a number to be axed in a "painful, but utterly necessary" move.
- Countdown (2007–08) - On 2 January 2007, Des O'Connor took over from Des Lynam as co-presenter (with Carol Vorderman) of Channel 4's long-running quiz show Countdown. He left the show in 2008 to spend more time on theatre and entertainment-based projects; his co-host Carol Vorderman has also since left.
- The One and Only Des O'Connor (2012) - A one-off celebration show that celebrated O'Connor's 80th birthday, with guests Paul O'Grady, Katherine Kelly, Olly Murs, Robert Lindsay and Melanie Sykes on ITV.
- Des O'Connor also appeared as a guest on the Morecambe And Wise show. He was the butt of many a joke or jibe by Morecambe, being referred to as "Des - short for 'desperate'", and "Death O'Connor". One famous line, sung to the tune of 'Crazy Words - Crazy Tune' was, "Roses are red, violets are blue, Des can't sing, we know that's true !".
O'Connor has had a successful career as a singer, recording thirty six albums, five of which reached the Top 40 of the UK Albums Chart. O'Connor has always taken criticism in good humour, even appearing with Morecambe and Wise on their 1975 Christmas Show in a sketch that mocked him. He got his own back on the 1976 Christmas Show when he was in the firing squad at the end of the main sketch.
In 1969, thirteen of his variety hours were sold to NBC in the United States, as a summer replacement for the network's Kraft Music Hall. This series was broadcast in more than forty countries and was seen by 200 million people worldwide.
- Just For You - 20 Special Songs (Warwick) (1979)
- Remember Romance - 20 Great Love Songs (Warwick) (1980)
- Now - 16 Classic Songs (Telstar) (1984)
- "Book Des O'Connor - Celebrities from". The Mcleod Agency. 1932-01-12. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
- "This Is Your Life (1969 - 1993) @ EOFFTV". Eofftv.com. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
- The London Gazette: . 14 June 2008.
- BBC News Entertainment Des O'Connor to leave Countdown 25 July 2008
- The One and Only Des O'Connor ITV news, Monday, 19 March 2012, 7:07PM. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- "Des O'Connor to leave Countdown". BBC News. 23 July 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 403. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
|Host of Take Your Pick
|Host of Countdown