First TV chat king Simon Dee dies from bone cancer
Mail On Sunday Reporter
Last updated at 2:39 PM on 30th August 2009
Simon Dee, Britain’s first TV chat show host, today died after losing his battle with bone cancer .
Mr Dee, 74, was a major star in the late Sixties, attracting 18million viewers with his twice-weekly BBC show Dee Time.
Guests included Sammy Davis Jr, Lee Marvin, Charlton Heston, and John Lennon.
He first found fame on pirate station Radio Caroline and, according to Elizabeth Hurley, his Sixties grooviness made him the inspiration for Austin Powers.
Pioneer: Simon Dee in the 1960s (left) and near his home in Winchester recently
But his TV career ended after a series of rows with management.
He was forced to go on the dole before becoming a bus driver.
It was only yesterday revealed that his bone cancer was terminal and that his condition was very grave,
Friends said Mr Dee had recently been admitted to Royal Hampshire County Hospital, near his home in Winchester.
His condition swiftly deteriorated and was understood to be so advanced that it was beyond treatment.
One friend, Roger Backhouse QC, said before his death: ‘Simon is being amazingly strong. His mind has not gone and he is still fun to be with.
Simon Dee, as the Radio Caroline DJ, presents the Radio Caroline First Birthday 'Bell' Award to The Beatles at the Twickenham Film Studios in 1965
is bearing himself in a very composed and dignified manner. He’s never
shown any rancour or bitterness about his fall from grace.’
Romita, who runs a newsagents in Winchester, added: ‘Simon is
terminally ill. He’s got days left.
'He has got bone cancer and it is well advanced. It’s a case of them just making him comfortable.’
Another friend, John Harding, said: ‘Simon is being extremely brave.’
Mr Dee, whose real name Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd, moved to Winchester 15 years ago and lives in a tiny, one bedroom flat.
It was a world away from the life of luxury he lived in the 1960s.
At the height of his fame he compered Miss World, appeared on Juke Box Jury and Top of the Pops helped launch pirate pop station Radio Caroline.
Sixties icon: Mr Dee is thought to be the inspiration for Austin Powers (right)
Due to a disagreement between him and BBC bosses
over his huge salary demands, his contract was reviewed in 1969 and he
left the channel.
The former RAF photographer was offered
£100,000 for a two-year contract with the independent channel LWT and
commenced a series with them in January 1970.
But Mr Dee fell out with the LWT management as well and they terminated his contract after only a few months.
Having alienated both the BBC and independent television, he disappeared from the airwaves.
signed on for unemployment benefit at the Fulham labour exchange and,
unable to revive his showbusiness career, he took a job as a bus driver.
also had several court appearances and in 1974 he served 28 days in
Pentonville prison for non-payment of rates on his former Chelsea home.
Every time he left his cell, the prisoners on his wing shouted out his catchphrase, 'It's Siiiiiimon Dee!'
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