Blackpool’s entertainment community was today in mourning after the sudden death of resort favourite Richard De Vere.
The master illusionist, magician and showman died while holidaying in Thailand, friends and colleagues confirmed.
Details have yet to be released as to the cause of death of the 46-year-old Thornton-based entertainer.
Richard, whose Mystique show ran for many years at the Pleasure Beach, had been due to begin a new engagement this year at Viva showbar.
In a statement the resort venue confirmed: “It is with deep sadness we have to confirm that Richard De Vere has unfortunately passed away while on vacation.
“Richard had been due to release full dates for his new show ‘Magique’ this week and was very excited to be making the announcement of dates here at Viva.
“We are obviously very shocked, sad and offer our deepest sympathies to Richard’s family, his partner and friends – simply a lovely gentlemen and talent who has left us far too early in his journey in life.”
The shock news, which broke last night, triggered an outpouring of tributes from friends and celebrities.
Friend and colleague Tom Bright, who was compere of Mystique, said: “When I heard the news I thought it was a joke, I couldn’t believe it. I’m totally in shock.
“Obviously we’re still waiting for details but I had not heard of any problems or him suffering with anything.
“Richard will be a major loss to Blackpool.
“He was a really nice guy, very talented, a lovely man who was totally unselfish and would help anyone.”
Resort favourite Joe Longthorne said on Twitter: “Deeply sad to hear just now that Richard has passed away.”
Fellow singer and TV presenter Jonathan Wilkes, who worked with Richard at the Pleasure Beach in the 1990s, added: “Really sad to hear the news that an old friend of mine Richard De Vere has passed away. God bless you mate.”
Richard took up magic when at school in Bolton.
He told The Gazette in 2006: “With a lot of practice it became a skill – making it interesting enough for people to want to watch was as much the skill as performing the trick or illusion.”
He became a Pontins’ Blue Coat and his career took off.
It was at the holiday camp he met the comedian Bernie Winters. It turned into a friendship which saw Bernie bequeath him his beloved trademark, the St Bernard dog Schnorbitz.
The famous hound became part of Richard’s act, as have the many Schnorbitzs who followed the original.
Asked later about his success, he told The Gazette: “I think I’ve had a blessed life – but then I work very hard at it.”
Last year Richard was forced to pull his Beyond Belief show at the Pleasure Beach after breaking his foot, an injury which ended an amazing run of 21 consecutive summer seasons in Blackpool.
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