The television all-rounder had achieved a rare feat in the often volatile world of entertainment, running his own prime-time TV talk shows for over 45 years.
Pat Lake-Smith said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that I confirm that Des O’Connor passed away yesterday.
“He was admitted to hospital a little over a week ago, following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire. He was recovering well and in good spirits, visited by his family – in accordance with hospital lockdown rules – and couldn’t wait to go. Unfortunately, last night his condition suddenly deteriorated and he walked away peacefully in his sleep.
“Des, who was 88, was loved so much by everyone. It was a joy to work with him – he was talented, fun, positive, enthusiastic, kind and a professional in his own right. He loved life and considered enthusiasm almost as important as He adored his family – they were everything to him. He is survived by his wife Jodie, their son Adam and his four daughters, Karin, TJ, Samantha and Kristina.
“Jodie’s world is shattered, she and the daughters of Adam and Des are suffering more than you can imagine.
“Des was the ultimate animator. He loved being on stage – entertaining a live audience. He always said that the sound of laughter was like the sound of heavenly music. He had a fabulous international television career, presenting his own prime-time television shows for over 45 years. On stage he has performed in almost every major venue in the world. ”
O’Connor’s four-year co-host Melanie Sykes posted a tribute to the star and said working with him was one of the best moments of his career.
Along with a photo of the couple together, she wrote: “Des had the sweetest hands of anyone I have ever met and the kindest of heart. He had talent in every fiber of his being and was as stubborn as a mule.
“He was the full ticket as a friend and colleague. When he picked me to be his co-host on the Today day show, it was one of the happiest days of my professional life. It was an education and a privilege to work with him for the years that followed.
“We worked long hours, but we always laughed a lot, especially because when it was show time, he would always tell me that I looked like a thief dog! Those years, I will never forget it and I will not forget it either. Darling Des, you will be missed forever. Melanie x ”
Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness tweeted: “Such sad news. Des O’Connor was never afraid to laugh at himself and that was part of his charm.
“Whether it’s Eric Morecambe laughing at him, or Freddie Starr destroying his studio, Des has always laughed. Another part of my childhood is gone. RIP Des O’Connor ”.
Born in Stepney, east London, to a Jewish mother and an Irish father, the comedian joked that he was the only O’Connor to ever have a Bar Mitzvah.
A young O’Connor briefly flirted with football as a career, playing professionally with Northampton Town, before serving his national service in the Royal Air Force, then joining Butlins Holiday Camp as a redcoat .
He continued to perform on theatrical variety shows, before taking his hiatus on the big screen in 1963 when the Des O’Connor show was commissioned on ITV.
Other bespoke shows followed, including Des O’Connor Tonight, An Audience With Des O’Connor and Today With Des And Mel.
He has also directed several well-known game shows including Take Your Pick and Countdown.