|30/01/03 of reality TV star and music producer David Gest with his wife Liza Minnelli, as he has died today in London aged 62, his friend Imad Handi said in a statement. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire|
The entertainer and former husband of Liza Minnelli was found dead in the Four Seasons hotel in Canary Wharf, London.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Police were called at 10.17 on Tuesday 12 April to the Four Seasons hotel, in Westferry Circus, E14, to reports of an unexplained death of a man in his 60s. London Ambulance Service were called to the scene. Life was pronounced extinct at the hotel.
"A post-mortem will be held in due course. Next of kin are in the process of being informed."
Gest was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Southern California where he counted Michael Jackson and his brothers as his childhood best friends. He resided in Memphis, Tennessee and York, Yorkshire before his death.
Gest admitted that in the 1980s he had two plastic surgery operations from the same plastic surgeon used by Michael Jackson. He stated he regretted the operations but no-one could have stopped him at the time.
Gest and Liza Minnelli were married on March 16, 2002, and separated less than a year and a half later in July 2003. In October 2003 he sued her for $10 million claiming that she had been violent and physically abusive during their marriage, behavior the affidavit blamed on Minnelli's persistent alcoholism. Minnelli denied the accusations, claiming Gest was simply after money. The suit was dismissed in September 2006 for lack of triable issue of fact.
Gest was found dead on April 12, 2016 in his hotel room, of the Four Seasons hotel in London's Canary Wharf district. His death was described by police as involving no suspicious circumstances.
He's the biggest freak ever to go into the jungle ... as I saw for myself when I had the pleasure of having tea with him on his recent visit to London.
"I'd like to meet David Gest," he told me then, "because he's either the weirdest person in the world or the most fascinating."
So it's no surprise David Gest, the estranged (and very strange) husband of Liza Minnelli was already screaming I'm A Celebrity before he even got to Australia, missing two flights from LA because he refused to fly business class.
The 53-year-old music producer (whose jungle age is officially 48) insisted ITV stump up an extra £7,000 for him to fly first class - on top of the £100,000 fee he's rumoured to be receiving for taking part in the show which starts tonight.
Exactly how much he'll be taking part remains to be seen. He has already refused to bungee jump into the jungle camp for the opening show in case the plummet affects the injectable fillers in his face.
And as he's never seen the series let alone a Bushtucker Trial, how he'll react if asked to eat kangaroo testicles could make for memorable TV - especially if they're not served up by his butler on the finest bone china.
Quite simply, David Gest doesn't do roughing it.
His list of phobias and ailments make Paul Burrell and Natalie 'Oh my God. I touched a tree' Appleton look like Tarzan. They are: Vertigo, nausea, hypertension, scalp tenderness, insomnia, dysphoria (a constant feeling of unease), photosensitivity, vomiting, shingles, a polyester allergy and chronic phonophobia (a morbid fear of the sound of his own voice). Despite his bulk he also claims to have anorexia. Many of his conditions - he claims to be on 11 different types of medication - can be traced back to his short-lived marriage to Liza. Just 16 months after the wedding in March 2002 which featured David's best friend Michael Jackson giving away the bride, Elizabeth Taylor as maid of honour, Martine McCutcheon as bridesmaid and a guest list of 850 of their very closest friends, their marriage headed for the rocks.
Nobody expected it to last. But they are still legally married, as their divorce cannot be finalised until their lawsuits are resolved.
When we met this year he was more than happy to reminisce about the woman who, on his previous visit to London had thrown a lamp at him in the Connaught hotel.
"I think there's still a special place in my heart for Liza," he said sentimentally, despite suing her for #7million for lasting injuries he claims she inflicted on him during her drunken rages. The lawsuit was thrown out two months ago.
Liza hit back claiming #1.3million alleging he stole from her. His favourite moment of their wedding, was, he says, "looking at my wife down the aisle and thinking I was marrying the most beautiful woman in the world".
Or, as his lawsuit against Liza put it: "At the time of the marriage, the defendant's career had been eclipsed, she was an alcoholic, overweight, unable to be effectively merchandised, could not get insurance to perform on stage or in any other media."
I'd heard so many mad stories about David, it's hard to separate fact from fiction and anecdote from exaggeration.
For instance, this is how he describes proposing: "I took her to the 80th floor of a New York building, I don't remember its name, we went on the balcony. I pro- posed."
It's a lovely story - except the only skyscraper in Manhattan with 80 or more floors is the Empire State Building, a name no one would forget - and it doesn't have balconies.
David has been dogged by rumours he is gay, but he just shrugs them off.
He says: "I don't care. As long as they spell my name right you can say whatever you want I said, bring me one guy I've ever been with and no one came forward. I've always loved women. I still love women and I date plenty of women."
A Californian, he dated Michael Jackson's older sister LaToya. In the 70s, he says he lived for 10 years with a woman called Ellen - notable for being the only person he mentions who isn't ridiculously famous. Hollywood star Jane Russell is "like my second mom". Whitney Houston "is like a sister".
The first time he met Liza was at Frank Sinatra's house. But he says: "I'm not name dropping."
Would he ever get married again? "Absolutely. I love being married. Liza and I both had a great sense of humour, we made each other laugh."
Slightly at odds with the 10-page lawsuit which listed five separate incidents where Liza allegedly beat him with her fists.
He says: "Anybody who deals with an alcoholic knows there are ups and downs.
When not drinking, Liza is the most incredible woman and a great talent, but she has a disease. It's hereditary. Her mother Judy Garland had it, too."
Of their stay in London in June 2003, he adds: "I tried to pick her up after she had been drinking vodka and threw her over my head to get her into bed. She hit my head a number of times. She broke every blood vessel in the back of my head. A bodyguard finally got her in bed. He was hit in the stomach...and he's a karate champ of England.
"It was a rough period. I lost two years of my life. I was ill, having injections in my head of three different medications to take the pain away. I'm just glad to be alive. I still feel the pain but I thank the Lord every day for being alive and able to go back to doing what I want to do. I was very naive when we started dating.
"I'm a conservative guy who likes to do things with style, who cares about the people in his life, wants to make the world a better place and wants to create great entertainment for people."
If he does make it through an evil Ant and Dec bush tucker trial, he'll have plenty of opportunity to do that.
Sources: Wikipedia, The Mirror UK, Belfast Telegraph Uk