Sir James - Jimmy - Savile, radio disc-jockey, television personality and indefatigable charity worker delighted in being one of life’s great enigmas.
Court jester to the Royal family and friend to prime ministers, yet he was portrayed as an unhappy loner.
For 20 years he made the dreams of youngsters come true with his hugely popular Jim’ll Fix It programme - yet he admitted he did not like children.
The public image was one of platinum-dyed hair, chunky jewellery, tracksuits, Havana cigars and inane patter - yet behind it lay the sharp brain of a cool-headed Yorkshire businessman who was also a member of Mensa.
Success was founded on a totally overweening belief in his own abilities and a tremendous energy, which took him from the Yorkshire minefields to radio and TV stardom.
Charities had much to thank him for, as he raised more than £30 million, including £12 million to rebuild the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville.
Sir Jimmy Savile was born in Leeds in 1926, the youngest of seven children of a poor bookmaker’s clerk.
He almost died from pneumonia when just five months old but miraculously recovered after his mother, whom he always referred to as the redoubtable “Duchess”, went out to the local church to pray to a deceased Scottish nun.
He again narrowly escaped death as a teenager in his first job when working as a miner.
An underground explosion brought down the coal face on his back damaging his spine to such an extent that he was told he would never walk again.
But his sheer grit and determination proved the medical experts wrong and after three years he was able to throw away his sticks.
He immediately latched on to the then unheard-of-venture of taking a wind-up gramophone to entertain people at dances and claimed to have set up the world’s first disco in Leeds in 1948.
By attaching the inside of a valve radio to the gramophone’s pick-up, he was able to amplify the sound sufficiently for dance-halls - until the valves overheated.
His work in the dance-halls was eventually spotted and he was asked to move on to radio where he rapidly acquired national fame, first with Radio Luxembourg, then the pirate radio ship Caroline, and finally with BBC Radio 1.
On television he became one of the stalwarts of BBC Television’s Top of the Pops, transferring his radio personality on to the small screen with consummate ease.
He was the programme’s first presenter, hosting the show from a converted church in Manchester - and even co-presented the final show in 2006.
His catchphrases such as “How’s about that guys and gals” and his Tarzan impressions became national institutions and he was widely mimicked.
Then in the 1970s he started a 20-year run as host of Jim’ll Fix It, working miracles for more than 1,500 children.
Among the more famous fix-its was the time when he arranged for an unknown 11-year-old called Nigel Kennedy to perform on television. The youngster went on to become one of the world’s most celebrated violinists.
His Radio 1 career saw him presenting Jimmy Savile’s Old Record Club for many years counting down the charts of yesteryear on Sunday lunchtimes. In the 1970s, he earned another catchphrase “clunk-click, every trip” after fronting a TV campaign to encourage the use of car seat belts.
He was a regular on the marathon running circuit and he spent five years as a professional wrestler but with much less success. He fought 107 bouts, lost 100 and won just seven, insisting it was never fixed.
Sir Jim’s earnings were substantial and he owned at least eight homes, including flats in Regent’s Park, Bournemouth, Leeds and Scarborough. Among his six cars were a Bentley Turbo, a Mercedes 500 SL and a flashy Rolls-Royce.
He was a paid consultant to travel agent Thomas Cook and charged a minimum of £10,000 for personal appearances. His British Rail “Age of the train” advertisements in 1984 brought in around £500,000.
But Sir Jimmy gave away nine-tenths of his income to two charitable trusts and in the later part of his career, he became more famous for his charity fund-raising and work as a voluntary helper at Stoke Mandeville, Leeds Infirmary and Broadmoor.
He became a regular visitor to Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, and Highgrove and was used as an intermediary in an attempt to resolve the differences between the Prince and Princess of Wales shortly before their split.
It was Sir Jimmy who encouraged the Princess to spearhead the “say no” drugs campaign and who coached her before she gave her first television interview.
Asked why he was invited so often by the Royal family, he once said: “Royalty are surrounded by people who don’t know how to deal with it.
“I have a freshness of approach which they obviously find to their liking. I think I get invited because I have a natural good fun way of going on and we have a laugh. They don’t get too many laughs.”
His name was never associated with any woman and he claimed he had never been in love.
He gave an extraordinary performance when interviewed on radio by leading psychiatrist Professor Anthony Clare.
Asked about his feelings, he said: “I haven’t got any emotions...Feelings aren’t logic.”
When asked about children he said: “I couldn’t eat a whole one...hate ‘em.” The only reason he got on with children, he said, was because he did not like them particularly.
Sir Jimmy also became something of a figure of fun, not helped by his cartoon-ish image.
Satirist Chris Morris targeted him in 1994 by announcing on Radio 1 that the presenter had died and broadcasting his obituary. Legal action was threatened and apology issued.
And Louis Theroux probed his apparently odd lifestyle for his Weird Weekends series, staying with the presenter for his When Louie met Jimmy programme.
During the documentary, Theroux visited his suede-walled flat in Scarborough which was a shrine to the former DJ’s late mother, with her old bedroom perfectly preserved.
He told how he still called out “alright darling” as he passed the door of her room, and explaining why he kept a wardrobe full of her outfits all regularly cleaned - he said: “These make better souvenirs than photographs.”
Sir Jimmy also made an appearance in the Celebrity Big Brother house on Channel 4 with “fix-its” for some of the housemates. And his own show was given a brief update on UKTV in 2007.