British TV Host Sir Michael Parkinson Dead at 88 Following ‘Brief Illness’: He Was ‘One of a Kind’

The TV host interviewed stars including Muhammad Ali, John Wayne, Tom Cruise and Madonna during his long career in journalism

Michael Parkinson Dead
British TV Host Sir Michael Parkinson has died at age 88. PHOTO: ITV/SHUTTERSTOCK

Sir Michael Parkinson, a British TV host famous for interviewing stars including Muhammed Ali, John Wayne, Tom Cruise, Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney on his talk show Parkinson, has died. He was 88.

Parkinson’s family issued a statement to the BBC on Thursday morning announcing that he had died “peacefully” following a “brief illness.”

“After a brief illness Sir Michael Parkinson passed away peacefully at home last night in the company of his family,” the statement said. “The family request that they are given privacy and time to grieve.”

A representative for Parkinson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Michael Parkinson Dead John Wayne 1974

Michael Parkinson interviews John Wayne on ‘Parkinson’ in 1974.

Parkinson was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1935, per the BBC, and served in the British army before becoming a journalist.

His show Parkinson first aired on the BBC in 1971, and ran for 11 years. In 1998, the show returned to the BBC until 2003, before moving over to rival channel ITV until 2007.

During his time hosting his chat show, Parkinson interviewed hundreds of stars, including actor Wayne in 1974.

In one memorable exchange, the host questioned Wayne about the so-called Hollywood Blacklist — a list of those who allegedly had connections with the Communist Party — prompting the actor to deny that anyone was blacklisted.

Other notable interviewees included boxer Ali, who appeared on Parkinson on multiple occasions, Tom Hanks, David Bowie, Victoria and David Beckham, Will Smith, Gwyneth Paltrow and George Clooney.

Michael Parkinson dead Muhammad Ali 1981
Michael Parkinson interview Muhammad Ali on ‘Parkinson’ in 1981.BBC/YOUTUBE

In a tribute to Parkinson — who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2008 — BBC Director-General Tim Davie described the host as “the king of the chat show” and said that Parkinson “defined the format for all the presenters and shows that followed.”

“He interviewed the biggest stars of the 20th century and did so in a way that enthralled the public. Michael was not only brilliant at asking questions, he was also a wonderful listener,” Davie added.

He continued, “Michael was truly one of a kind, an incredible broadcaster and journalist who will be hugely missed.”

British comedian Eddie Izzard also paid tribute to the TV host on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday morning.

“Very sad to hear that Michael Parkinson has left us. He was the king of the intelligent interview,” Izzard, 61, wrote.

Michael Parkinson dead Gwyneth Paltrow 2003
Michael Parkinson interviews Gwyneth Paltrow on ‘Parkinson’ in 2003.BBC/YOUTUBE

Parkinson received treatment for prostate cancer in 2013 before doctors gave him the all-clear in 2015, according to the BBC.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Parkinson — who he married in 1959 — and the couple’s three children: Andrew, Nicholas and Michael Jr.

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