Robin Leach, British presenter of US lifestyle show, dies aged 76

The gaudy show became wildly popular, but never with critics.

Robin Leach, the British presenter whose voice took listeners through the opulent 1980s on American TV’s Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous, has died aged 76.

Mr Leach’s family said through a public relations firm that he died in Las Vegas, where he made his home.

Mr Leach had a stroke in November while on holiday in Mexico that led to a long recovery, much of which he spent at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio before returning to Las Vegas in June.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which ran Mr Leach’s columns before he became ill, said he suffered another stroke on Monday.

“Champagne wishes and caviar dreams” was Mr Leach’s sign-off at the end of every episode of his show’s decade-long run that began in 1984.

The catchphrase captured excesses and extravagant style of the 1980s – a time of oil billionaires, titans of industry and Wall Street traders.

Mr Leach appeared occasionally on the show, but he and his unmistakable English-accent narrated throughout, taking viewers on tours of mansions with diamond-crusted chandeliers, yachts with jacuzzis, and champagne collections.

He said in later years that someone still shouted “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” at him almost daily.

Lifestyles Of the Rich And Famous was the core of Mr Leach’s career that spanned six decades and included stints with CNN, People magazine, Entertainment Tonight and the Daily Mail, where he began as a writer in Britain at 18.

In the mid-1970s, he tried out TV as a regular contributor to AM Los Angeles with hosts Regis Philbin and Sarah Purcell, and found his calling.

He became a regular on television morning news and entertainment shows, practising a sort of tabloid journalism that was more celebratory and light-hearted. He often became friends with the celebrities he covered.

Then in 1984, he landed Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous and gained his own fame.

The gaudy show became wildly popular, but never with critics.

“They wrote that television had reached an all-time-low,” Mr Leach told The Huffington Post. “But I looked at the ratings every Monday morning, and I was rubbing my hands with glee.”

He was also an executive producer and occasional writer on the show, and hosted a brief spin-off, Runaway With The Rich And Famous.

In 1999, Mr Leach went to Las Vegas to work with celebrity chefs at the Venetian casino-resort, and made the move permanent, becoming a fixture in the city as he covered the destination’s entertainment and lifestyles for America Online and his own website.

He also wrote for the Las Vegas Sun and, most recently, for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

He made frequent appearances on the celebrity reality TV circuit, hosting VH-1’s The Surreal Life: Fame Games and appearing on the celebrity editions of Wife Swap and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

He was among the founders of the Food Network, selling his equity for a big payday when the channel took off.

Married once and divorced, Mr Leach spent much of his later years in the company of his three sons, Steven, Rick and Greg, and several grandchildren.

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