Joe Longthorne funeral: Blackpool pays respects to star
Hundreds of people have lined the streets of Blackpool to pay their respects at the funeral of entertainer Joe Longthorne.
The 64-year-old singer and impressionist died on 3 August.
The funeral cortege began at his Layton home at 11:00 BST and passed venues he starred at, including North Pier, before a public service at Sacred Heart Church in Talbot Road.
A special procession took place on Monday in Hull, where he grew up.
Skip Twitter post by @Ali_Butterworth
The funeral of entertainer #JoeLongthorne is underway in #Blackpool. More @BBCLancashire as the town pays tribute. pic.twitter.com/BxQwmcZFVF
— Alison Butterworth (@Ali_Butterworth) August 13, 2019
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Fans gathered at venues the star performed at in his adopted home as the funeral procession went past the Music Hall Tavern, Winter Gardens, Grand Theatre and Viva, then along the promenade to take in North Pier, where the star set a record with a 19-week show.
It arrived at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, where hundreds of mourners were waiting, for a full requiem mass.
Stars including comedian Bobby Ball are among those attending the service.
"He made millions of people happy," Ball said.
"He was a wonderful entertainer and we were very lucky to have him."
Longthorne wanted a "simple service with straightforward hymns" that the public could attend, said Canon Bob Dewhurst at Sacred Heart.
He said the star did not want it "being turned into a circus" and he wanted people "to pray for repose of his soul".
A burial will then take place in Layton Cemetery and people are invited to a wake afterwards at Viva "to remember Joe in a suitable style which he himself would have approved of", according to his official website.
Mourners have been signing a book of condolence at the Viva showbar.
Longthorne was a regular on the ITV series Junior Showtime from 1969 until the age of 16.
After working the club circuit, his big break was on the ITV series Search For A Star in 1981.
He then starred in TV programmes including the Les Dennis Laughter Show and the Royal Variety Performance.
He was appointed MBE in 2012 for his services to charity.
The singer and impressionist died in "the arms of his devoted husband of 21 years Jamie, with his rosary beads clutched tight to his chest", the performer's website said.
Longthorne was diagnosed with the blood cancer lymphoma at the peak of his career in 1989.
However, he continued to perform and launched albums in the 1990s despite being diagnosed with leukaemia.
He had further health complications after a bone marrow transplant in 2005, and was involved in a serious road crash in 2011, suffering a broken nose and broken ribs.
His health further deteriorated when he was diagnosed with mouth cancer, but he returned to work in time for his 60th birthday celebrations.