Popular Leeds entertainer dies aged 79

By Peter Lazenby THE WORLD of showbiz in Leeds has lost one of its most popular entertainers.

Tony "Ascot" Heath died in Leeds General Infirmary at the age of 79 on Saturday. He had been ill for some years and had been in hospital for more than three weeks suffering chest and respiratory problems.

Mr Heath got his "Ascot" nickname because he trained as a jockey. Although he never won a race, he became firm friends with the likes of Lester Piggott and Joe Mercer.

But it was on stage that he endeared himself to a much wider audience. He was a compere, singer, comic and all-round entertainer and won some small parts in TV soaps.

On stage he was among a generation of entertainers in Yorkshire such as the Wallace Family and Charlie Williams. His home for the last 40 years was in Ireland Wood in Leeds. Clubland and variety theatre were his natural professional home.

He made more than two dozen TV appearances, including variety shows and soaps. He had a role in the TV film Leeds United, which documented a historic strike by tailoring workers in Leeds, and made many appearances for charity.

His son Johnathan said: "His life was a mixture of show business and horse racing. He had a beautiful voice and was a great singer.

"He could hold an audience, but most importantly he could make people laugh without being vulgar or crude."

Johnathan is match day presenter at Leeds United's Elland Road ground.

Mr Heath was married twice. He leaves his former first wife Doris and three daughters, two sons by his marriage to his widow Edith, and 10 grandchildren.

The funeral takes place at 12.15 tomorrow at Holy Name Church at Cookridge. The family request no flowers, but donations can be made to the Respiratory Care Unit at LGI.

peter.lazenby@ypn.co.uk