LONDON – British entertainer Max Bygraves, a veteran singer and comedian known for his old-fashioned charm, has died, his agent confirmed Saturday. He was 89.
Agent Johnny Mans said Bygraves, who had suffered from Alzheimer's disease, died in his sleep Friday at his daughter's home in Hope Island, Queensland, Australia.
Bygraves won fame in Britain's music halls and theaters after World War II, becoming one of the country's best known variety performers and releasing dozens of popular records.
Famed for his catchphrase "I wanna tell you a story," Bygraves become a staple performer on radio through the 1950s, and later appeared frequently on British television shows and in a small number of films.
"We have lost one of the best entertainers that Britain has ever produced," Mans said. "His death is a great loss to the entertainment profession and a great loss to all of his friends in the industry."
Born to an east London dockworker, Bygraves was awarded an OBE — a British honor — in 1982, and performed regularly for the royal family, first in 1950 for King George VI.
"He was one of the all-time greats of British show business," comedian Jimmy Tarbuck told BBC television.
The performer's career spanned six decades, with Bygraves recording an album in 2001 for the Royal British Legion charity. He was best known for the songs "You Need Hands" and the novelty hit "You're a Pink Toothbrush."
Bygraves also won brief acclaim in the United States, where he toured in the 1950s and appeared alongside Judy Garland at New York's Palace Theater.
The entertainer emigrated from Britain to Australia in 2005.