Iconic British singer and TV star Cilla Black dies at 72

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Cilla Black Dies Aged 72

At the top of her game in the UK, Cilla Black, who died today at the age of 72, was the highest-paid woman on television. During her 50-year career, Black, born Priscilla White, had 11 songs in the UK top 10, two consecutive number one hits ("Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "You're My World," both 1964) and 19 consecutive hits in the UK top 40. She was appointed to the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and honored with a special BAFTA last year for her lifelong dedication to the arts and entertainment.

Black infamously worked as a hat-check girl in Liverpool's famous Cavern Club and as a coffee server in the Zodiac, earning five shillings and a lunch comprising a bread roll and Heinz tomato soup "laced with the smell of disinfectant." In 1963, John Lennon introduced her to producer Brian Epstein. She first auditioned for Epstein, and the Beatles, at the Majestic Ballroom:

I did a Sam Cook version of 'Summertime', the Porgy and Bess thing, but I did it in thur key, not mine. Brian wasn't impressed. I was signed nearly a year later. I was singing jazz in the Blue Angel and I didn't know Brian was in. He liked me, singing in my own key.

Take a look back at Cilla Black's life below:

Cilla Black dies at age 72
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Iconic British singer and TV star Cilla Black dies at 72
Cilla Black walks on the catwalk at the Fashion For Relief show, during London Fashion Week at the Natural History Museum in central London, Wednesday Sept. 17, 2008. Funds were raised by the show and a following auction for The White Ribbon Alliance charity to be used directly to promote and increase awareness of the need to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for women and newborns in developing and developed countries. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
British presenter Cilla Black poses with her Special Award at the British Academy Television Awards at a central London venue, Sunday, May 18, 2014. (Photo by Jonathan Short/Invision/AP)
British pop singer Cilla Balck with her fiance Bobby Willis, in Mayfair, London, on Jan. 4, 1969. (AP Photo)
John Madjeski, the chairman of the English Premiership soccer team Reading, arrives with British singer Cilla Black for the premiere "The Last King of Scotland" for the first screening for the 50th anniversary of the London Film Festival, in London's Leicester Square Wednesday Oct. 18, 2006. (AP Photo/ Max Nash)
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 1968 file photo, From left to right: George Alexander; Pete Swettenham, Geoffrey Swettenham and John Perry, the four members of the "Grapefruit" pop group are seen seated at a table at the launch of their record "Dear Delilah, in the Mayfair Suite at Hanover Grand Hotel in London, with with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, folk singer Donovan; Beatles' Ringo Starr and John Lennon; Cilla Black and Paul McCartney in the background. Police say big-voiced British singer and TV host Cilla Black has died aged 72. Spanish police said Sunday that the singer, who had a home in Estepona, southern Spain, died Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Robert Dear, File)
British pop singer Cilla Black with her personal manager, Bobby Willis, after they were married in Marylebone Registery Office, London, on Jan. 25, 1969. (AP Photo/Staff/Priest)
FILE - In this March 8, 1968 file photo, singer Cilla Black counts votes with singer Cliff Richard for Britain's "Song For Europe", in Shepherd's Bush, London. Spanish police said Sunday that the singer, who had a home in Estepona, southern Spain, died Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. Born Priscilla White, Black worked as a teenager in the cloakroom of Liverpool’s Cavern Club, where her musical talent was spotted by The Beatles. (AP Photo, File)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 07: Cilla Black, John Madejski and Michael Howard attend the launch of Sandra Howard's new book 'Tell The Girl' at Daunt Books on July 7, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Cilla Black gets presented with the Special Award by Paul O'Grady, at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards held at the Theatre Royal on May 18, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Cilla Black attends the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards at Theatre Royal on May 18, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Cilla Black attends a private lunch to celebrate her upcoming BAFTA Special Award hosted by Villa Maria Wines at Rabot 1745 in Borough Market on May 13, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images)
Cilla Black On The Final Day Of Royal Ascot. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 02: Cilla Black attends the auction at The Nordoff Robbins Silver Clef Awards 2010 held at The London Hilton on July 2, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Cilla Black Attending Photocall For The Launch Of This Year'S Panto Season At The O2 Centre In London. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
LONDON - SEPTEMBER 17: Cilla Black walks the runway during the Fashion For Relief show at London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2009 on September 17, 2008 in London, England. Fashion For Relief is a charity fashion show and auction organised by model Naomi Campbell. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Cilla Black wearing A hat poses during Ladies Day at Royal Ascot, Thursday 19th June 2008. (Photo by Marco Secchi/Photoshot/Getty Images)

She came to prominence during the Merseybeat era, named for the beat music played by bands in the River Mersey area, and in 1968 began a career on television, hosting the variety show Cilla. She went on to host the shows Surprise, Surprise and Blind Date. The latter, which she helmed for 18 years, had 17 million viewers in its prime. The show was so popular, and Black's clout so mighty, then when she rebooted Blind Date in 2001, she made ITV producers push back uber-popular soccer (football) highlights to make room for the show. Imagine a dating show hosted by a 60-year-old woman in American usurping SportsCenter. It would never happen. There won't be another Cilla Black.

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