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Sunday 22 September 2019

'He leaves a legacy of love and laughter' - stars pay tribute to comedy great

Brendan Grace
Brendan Grace

Big names from the world of showbiz have come out to pay tribute to Brendan Grace.

Tom Kelly, the comedian's booking agent for 27 years, hailed him as "one of the greatest entertainers of this era".

"Brendan Grace was one of the greatest entertainers of this era, no doubt about that," he told RTE's Morning Ireland.

"He gave a performance every night that merited the applause he received.

"We can look back with pride on Brendan's lifetime.

"He was a great family man, very close with them, and he was adored by his fans all over the world."

Sketch

Kelly also spoke of the time that Grace performed for Frank Sinatra.

"Sinatra fell around the place laughing at him. He then went on to perform with Sinatra in London and in America," he said.

Grace was warned not to do his "drunk man" sketch at an intimate gathering hosted by the legendary crooner. But he defied the warning from Sinatra's management team.

The guests that night, who included Sammy Davis Jr, "fell about the place laughing" and the comedian and the singer became lifelong friends.

Grace with Sammy Davis Jr
Grace with Sammy Davis Jr

So close was their friendship that Sinatra referred to Grace as his "man in Europe".

Fellow comedian and friend June Rogers also expressed her sadness at Grace's passing. "He's a very kind man and he was very kind to me when I started out," she said.

"He was a wonderful family man - Eileen and himself were very much together."

Mrs Brown's Boys star Brendan O'Carroll also paid tribute.

"So sad at the passing of a great comedy legend, husband and father," he wrote on Twitter.

"He opened doors for so many of us and leaves a legacy of love and laughter that will echo through this land and we will all mourn his passing. Rest peacefully Bottler you've earned it."

Grace with Frank Sinatra
Grace with Frank Sinatra

O'Carroll said he was just 19 when he first encountered Grace.

"I remember the very first gig I worked on with him," he said.

"I remember his soundcheck, and I still use it to this day.

"His soundcheck was 'Mary had a little lamb and her father shot the shepherd' and I fell around the place laughing.

"I remember one tour we did. I kept track of the audience and we played to over 120,000 people and this was at a time that most comedians were considered a warm- up act," he added.

"He was an amazing all-rounder and a very generous man with his time.

"You were brought into the family very quickly and he made you feel part of the family.

"He had a niche within comedy in Ireland and there's nobody there to fill that."

President Michael D Higgins praised the entertainer's "spontaneous wit and his sense of timing".

Legend

"His best-loved characters will endure, precisely because they are both recognisable and representative of the experiences lived and recalled by Irish people of all ages," he said.

"A genuine comedy legend in Ireland, when we were growing up he was the king of the entertainers. Sorry I never met him, but relieved I never had to follow him. RIP Brendan," said fellow comedian Dara O Briain.

Writing on Instagram, radio and TV presenter Ryan Tubridy said: "An era ends with the sad passing of Brendan Grace, an Irish icon.

"From Bottler to Fr Ted and a Late Late Show regular, he never failed to entertain. Condolences to his family, RIP."

"Brendan was one of Ireland's original funny men, and one of Irish comedy's true pioneers," said RTE director general Dee Forbes.

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