The world of showbusiness today paid tribute to Blackpool star Bernie Nolan who died aged 52.
The talented actress and singer lost her battle with cancer yesterday, surrounded by her family who said they were “devastated to have lost beloved Bernie, a wonderful wife, adoring mother and loving sister.
Her life on stage and screen – especially alongside her siblings in The Nolan Sisters – attracted a legion of fans.
And her friends today described her as “a great icon” and “fantastic entertainer”.
Bill Kenwright, Britain’s leading theatre impresario, paid tribute to Bernie.
He said: “Maureen (Nolan) called me with the sad news. Maureen is currently doing Blood Brothers for me – just as Bernie and Denise and Linda have before.
“They have all been in Blood Brothers. They all came to lunch with me on the Sunday after Blood Brothers ended its 25 year run in London earlier this year.
“They were altogether – all the ones who had worked for me – and Bernie was there and as resilient as ever.
“She was saying, ‘hey listen, I’ve had a great life, I know what’s going to happen but it’s been extraordinary’.
“This family has gone through so much already and this is going to devastate them.
“They are more than just a nice family, they are one of the great families in British showbusiness history.
“I am so sad for them all.”
Ventriloquist Keith Harris said: “I worked with the girls over many years and they did my TV show several times, so I have known them for a long time.
“Bernie was a lovely lady and it’s very sad for the whole family.
“She has done some session stuff for me. I needed someone to do some singing and she put down some great vocals.
“It was a nice thing for her to do because someone of that stature could’ve turned round and said ‘no’, but she wasn’t like that.”
Performer Syd Little regularly had the Nolans on The Little and Large Show before it came to an end in 1991.
He said: “She was a great girl and a lovely lady. I’m very upset.
“I will remember her as a fantastic all round performer, it’s very sad news. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family, they will be devastated.”
Tracy Dawson is a friend of the family and spent time with them when her comedian husband Les performed with the family in Bournemouth 20 years ago.
She said: “She was a great icon. Les worked with the Nolans a few times and it’s so sad this has happened to a such a young lady and beautiful actress.
“I saw her in Blood Brothers about two years ago in London. She was a fabulous actress.”
A spokesman for the Winter Gardens and Opera House said: “Everyone at the venue is saddened to hear the news of Bernie’s passing. She made many friends here and will be greatly missed. ”
Bernie last performed at the Lowther Pavilion five years ago to a packed crowd.
Mark Alexander, theatre manager of the Lytham venue, said: “It’s a sad loss of a valuable local legend.”
Producer Tony Jo worked with the Nolans.
He said: “Bernie was one of the most talented individuals I ever produced and was part of a wonderful family and a bright light which has now been extinguished.
“She was a fighter who was brave to the end.”
Please leave your tributes to Bernie below and pick up a copy of Friday’s Gazette as stars pay tribute to a local legend.