Robin Leach, who was a familiar face on television for years — with his catchphrase “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams” and his signature show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” — has died. Leach died early today in Las Vegas, according to media reports.
Leach had reportedly been hospitalized since last November, after he suffered a stroke while in Cabo San Lucas. More recently he suffered a second stroke and had been in hospice care. He was just a few days short of his 77th birthday, which was coming up next Wednesday.
His sons released a statement today saying: “Despite the past 10 months, what a beautiful life he had. Our Dad, Grandpa, Brother, Uncle and friend Robin Leach passed away peacefully last night at 1:50 a.m. Everyone’s support and love over the past, almost one year, has been incredible and we are so grateful. Memorial arrangements to follow.”
Leach had lived since 1999 in Las Vegas, where he wrote columns chronicling star-studded events around town for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas Sun and other publications.
The Review-Journal quotes the London-born Leach telling the Sun in 2011: “I wanted no other job than to work in newspapers. I was fascinated by the process of collecting information, talking to people and having the story appear in a paper that would be delivered in your letterbox.”
He became the youngest Page One editor for the U.K.’s Daily Mail at age 18 before eventually moving to New York, in 1963. He would go on to write for the New York Daily News, Ladies Home Journal and People magazine, later launching the weekly pop music magazine Go and becoming entertainment editor of The Star.
“He broke into television in 1980, joining CNN’s ‘People Tonight’ show. He later helped start the syndicated pop culture TV show ‘Entertainment Tonight,'” The Review-Journal reports. “His big break came in 1984 with the debut of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ a program he created with the legendary television producer Al Masini. The syndicated show, which ran from 1984 to 1995, focused on celebrities’ lavish homes and favorite destinations. Many cultural observers point to ‘Lifestyles’ as a turning point that opened the door for other celebrity-centric reality shows, including ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians.’”
Leach shared in a Primetime Emmy nomination for the show in 1984.