NEW YORK (NBC) — Robin Leach, the British gossip guru who became a staple of television on this side of the pond as host of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” died Friday. He was 76.
“Despite the past 10 months, what a beautiful life he had,” Leach’s sons Steven, Gregg and Rick Leach said in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, where the elder Leach had worked most recently as a gossip columnist.
“Everyone’s support and love over the past, almost one year, has been incredible and we are so grateful.”
The London-born Leach broke into journalism in 1956, at the age of 15, for the tiny Harrow Observer, and then worked his way up to become an editor of the Daily Mail just three years later.
But fame beckoned after he arrived in New York in 1963, where he would write for the New York Daily News. Celebrity lifestyle stories seemed to suit him, as he joined a new magazine called People. There he wrote the magazine’s first 11 cover stories.
In 1980, he joined another fledgling outlet with recurring work on CNN’s “People Tonight” show.
Most viewers of a certain age, however, will forever associated Leach and his accent as the host of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” a program he created in 1984 with TV producer Al Masini. The syndicated show ran through 1995, giving viewers a voyeuristic peek at the champagne wishes and caviar dreams of the titular rich and famous.
In 1999, he moved to Las Vegas, where he continued in his first love — mining celebrity culture in newspapers.
“I look at it as a challenge. It’s another [opportunity] to make something out of thin air. I’ll work as many hours as necessary,” Leach told the Hollywood Reporter at the time he started as the Review-Journal’s celebrity correspondent. “I’ve never shied away from hard work.”