Entertainer Joe Longthorne dies aged 64

Joe Longthorne
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Blackpool-based entertainer Joe Longthorne has died after battling cancer for more than 30 years.

The 64-year-old died in the arms of his husband Jamie Moran at 2am today at the home they shared in the resort.

In a statement relatives said: "It is with the deepest sadness that we have to announce that the nation's beloved entertainer Joe Longthorne MBE passed away peacefully in the early hours of today at his cherished home in Blackpool.

"Joe died in his bedroom, laying in the arms of his devoted husband of 21 years Jamie, with his rosary beads clutched tight to his chest.

"He leaves behind sister Ann and brother John. Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to Jamie and all the family at this sad time."

Joe, who was first diagnosed with blood cancer in 1987, fought off the disease on a number of occasions during the past 32 years and was even given the last rites by a priest in 2005 before miraculously bouncing back.

He carried on entertaining audiences throughout his illness and was even planning on appearing in a show at Viva in Blackpool tomorrow.

The showbiz stalwart, rose to fame in 1981 as a singer and impressionist on the TV show Search For A Star. Joe had lived in the resort for the past 20 years.

Tributes poured in early today with Benidorm writer Derren Litten tweeting: "Very sad to hear of the passing of Hull born entertainer Joe Longthorne MBE. From first sneaking into seeing him at The Ferry Boat pub in Hessle when I was a kid to watching him play the @LondonPalladium many times I’ve always been in awe of his amazing talent. RIP."

Comedian Les Dennis wrote: "So very sad to hear that Joe Longthorne has died. Worked with him many times. A supreme talent and a nice man."

Darts legend Phil "The Power" Taylor tweeted: "I would like to send my condolences to the family of my good buddy Joe who sadly passed away. Had some great times with him and have great memories."

Actress, singer and TV presenter Claire Sweeney added: "I first saw Joe at the Montrose Social Club aged 14. He was amazing. Saw him many times over the years. One of the greatest stars this country ever had. True star and talent beyond belief."

Robbie Williams' dad Pete Conway said: "So sad to hear of the passing of my friend Joe this morning. Wonderful talent, charismatic and greatly loved by his many fans. Will miss the laughs."

And Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner MP tweeted: "So sad. He was much-loved by the many fans who adored him."