David Gest: 'Loveable eccentric' dies in London hotel room
Music producer found a second career in the UK as a popular contestant on reality TV shows
Concert impresario and reality TV star David Gest has been found dead in a London hotel room at the age of 62.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: "Police were called at 10.17am on Tuesday 12 April to the Four Seasons hotel in Westferry Circus to reports of an unexplained death of a man in his sixties."
There will be a post-mortem, although the circumstances of the death are not thought to be suspicious.
Born in Los Angeles in 1953, Gest was a childhood friend of Michael Jackson and entered the music business after dropping out of university.
A concert producer by trade, he spent most of his professional life organising musical extravaganzas, including a tribute to Jackson which drew in 44 million viewers and saw him nominated for a Primetime Emmy.
Although his work made him known and respected in industry circles, Gest became a household name for his brief and stormy marriage to Liza Minelli.
The couple wed in 2002, in a lavish ceremony which featured Jackson as best man and Elizabeth Taylor as matron of honour. However, the marriage quickly fell apart under the strain of Minelli's resurgent alcoholism and allegations that she repeatedly attacked her husband.
Gest found broader fame in the UK in 2006, when he appeared as a contestant on I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!. Billed as Minelli's ex-husband, he won over campmates and TV audiences with his waspish one-liners, Hollywood anecdotes and twinkling warmth.
Gest's stint in the jungle launched a second career as a chat show guest, celebrity panellist and contestant on other reality shows, including Celebrity Big Brother in January, although he left the house after 13 days on medical grounds.
Following a much-publicised misunderstanding during his stay in the house, in which fellow star Tiffany Pollard believed he had died, Gest planned to name his next live tour the "David Gest is Not Dead but Alive with Soul Tour!".
Reactions to Gest's unexpected passing focused on the way his quick wit and oddball persona had turned him into an unlikely favourite with the British public.
He was "one of those loveable eccentrics who found their niche on fluffy fly-on-the-wall shows", says Michael Hogan in the Daily Telegraph. "Guilty pleasure TV will be a duller place without him."