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Robin Leach, ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ Host, Dies at 76

Robin Leach, best known for hosting the hit TV series “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” died on Friday morning in Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 76.

The journalist had reportedly been hospitalized since Nov. 21 following a stroke.

“Sad to report the death of famed celeb reporter, friend and colleague #RobinLeach @ 1:50 a.m. in #LasVegas,” tweeted John Katsilometes, a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where Leach worked. “He would have been 77 Wednesday. He suffered a second stroke Monday. He in hospice care. He’d been hospitalized since Nov. 21, after suffering a stroke in Cabo San Lucas.”

“Despite the past 10 months, what a beautiful life he had. Our Dad, Grandpa, Brother, Uncle and friend Robin Leach passed away peacefully last night at 1:50 a.m.,” the family said in a statement, which Katsilometes also tweeted. “Everyone’s support and love over the past, almost one year, has been incredible and we are so grateful. Memorial arrangements to follow. With love, Steven, Gregg and Rick Leach.”

Leach began covering entertainment as a teenager in his native England. He gained international fame as the loquacious host of the syndicated series “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” which bowed in 1983 and remained on the air through the mid-1990s.

The series epitomized the worship of celebrities and wealth that became a defining feature of the 1980s. The show billed itself as “television’s unchallenged authority on wealth, prestige, and success.” Leach ended each episode by wishing viewers “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.” Shari Belafonte joined Leach as co-host toward the end of the series’ run.

Leach’s distinctive British accent (described as Cockney mixed with Manchester) and manner of speaking became his trademark as he narrated each episode of “Lifestyles.” The show reveled in the conspicuous consumption and excesses that it highlighted, but it also had a populist touch as Leach often interjected a note of disbelief at the over-the-top lifestyles of the subjects he profiled. The show made Leach synonymous with celebrity and luxury — a brand that Leach expertly exploited in countless TV and movie appearances. He was most recently seen in two episodes of the NBC comedy “Great News.”

Born in London during World War II, Leach gravitated to journalism as a teenager. By age 18, he was working for the Daily Mail. In 1963, he moved to the U.S., where he worked for the New York Daily News, People magazine, and Ladies’ Home Journal, covering entertainment. He worked as a top editor for the Star tabloid, and served as U.S.-based show business editor for Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. newspapers for many years.

Leach’s on-air career began with local TV reports for ABC-owned KABC-TV Los Angeles and WABC-TV New York. In 1980, he joined the then-fledgling CNN as host of “People Tonight.” Around this time he was part of the editorial team that launched “Entertainment Tonight” in syndication. “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” grew out of Leach’s work with “ET.”

Leach hosted the ABC daytime series “Fame, Fortune and Romance” from 1986 to 1987. He was also a presence in the early days of cable’s Food Network, hosting a call-in series.

In the late 1990s, Leach moved to Las Vegas and eventually made Sin City his permanent home. In addition to his column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he ran a production company, Total Vegas Television, that produced YouTube videos and other content.

Leach remained a staple of the TV talk-show circuit. His other TV appearances over the years included guest shots on “Roseanne,” “Boy Meets World,” “Thirtysomething,” “The Guiding Light,” “The Love Boat,” “Hollywood Squares,” “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here,” “The Surreal Life: Fame Games,” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Leach is survived by three sons and four grandchildren.

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