Robin Leach, Host of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ Dies at 76
Robin Leach, the television host who showed audiences a glimpse beyond the gilded curtain, a peek into the inner sanctums of the super-rich, has died. He was 76.
Leach, who had been hospitalized after a stroke in November, was with family at the time of his death.
“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.,” said the family in a statement. “Everyone’s support and love over the past, almost one year, has been incredible and we are so grateful. Memorial arrangements to follow.”
Born on August 29th, 1941, Leach was raised in a lower-middle-class London suburb, the son of a vacuum cleaner sales executive. He wrote for The Harrow Observer while he was attending the Harrow County School for Boys, earning $6 a week at the newspaper after he graduated.
After moving to New York in 1963, Leach initially sold shoes, before pursuing a career as a newspaperman, covering showbiz. “I wanted no other job than to work in newspapers,” he told the Las Vegas Sun in 2011. “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 went on to become the youngest editor at London’s Daily Mail at 18, then went on to write for the New York Daily News, Ladies’ Home Journal, People and The Star. Eventually, Leach leaped into television, joining CNN’s People Tonight show in 1980 and helped launch Entertainment Tonight the following year.
But Leach became a household name after hosting Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, from 1984 to 1995, one of the first shows to feature the lives of the wealthy, coinciding with society’s ever-growing fascination with celebrity and affluence.
“There’s nothing wrong with being rich,” Leach told The Times in 2003. “Capitalism can do what governments can’t.”
In a 1992 interview with Larry King, Leach attributed the immense popularity of the show to the innate curiosity people are born with, the desire to “know what goes on next door.” The show was said to have paved the way for the aspirational reality television shows we see today, such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
“The more eye-popping and outrageous, the better,” Leach told Askmen.com of his show. “We wanted to make your mouth drop. That was the main effect. One picture was worth a thousand words, so if you had more pictures, the less you would have to say.”
Although Leach had somewhat of an exaggerated onscreen persona, he was adamant that off-camera, he was rather more grounded.
“The cartoon character, that’s not who Robin Leach is,” he told the New York Times in 1990. “And when I wake up in the morning, I wink at myself because I like me — I know who I am. And when it’s time to send the cartoon character off, I just send him on his way.”