Katie Boyle, one of the first celebrities to be famous for being famous, dies aged 91
She was born in a Florentine Palace and had the kind of name that gives you jet-lag just reading it.
Caterina Irene Elena Maria Imperiali de Principi di Francavilla was never going to be destined for an average life. Yet when she died last week, at the age of 91, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people remembered her being a part of their world.
For back in the 1950s as Katie Boyle, Caterina was one of the first TV and radio celebrities who became famous for being famous. She brought glamour and a certain self-confident sparkle to the hesitant TV age of drab post-war Britain.
She would come to be best known as the multi-lingual hostess of the Eurovision Song Contest but Katie had already made her mark in the 1950s and 60s on panel shows like What’s My Line and Juke Box Jury. She was also the face of Camay Soap extolling its virtues in a series of TV ads even though it was later claimed she was allergic to the stuff.
Ironically, just days after her death was announced, Eurovision fans lost another big name from the history of the contest when the very first winner the Swiss singer Lys Assia died at the age of 94.
Lys’s entry, Refrain, brought victory for Switzerland in 1956. Though she made several furtherl appearances on the show Lys would never wear the Eurovision crown again and it took 32 years for Switzerland to take the top spot again with Celine Dion’s 1988 entry.