Robin Leach, who showcased the “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” of the rich and famous in his decades of journalism for magazines and TV, has died at age 76, his family confirmed.
“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. Everyone’s support and love over the past, almost one year, has been incredible and we are so grateful. Memorial arrangements to follow,” Leach’s sons Steven, Gregg and Rick said in a statement.
Leach was a major trailblazer for American celebrity journalism. At age 18, he became the youngest-ever Page One editor of the Daily Mail. From there, he went on to write for New York Daily News, Ladies Home Journal, The Star, and PEOPLE. Leach got into television in the ’80s, working on CNN’s People Tonight and helping to launch the syndicated pop culture show Entertainment Tonight.
In 1984, Leach launched the syndicated show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which became his most iconic work. Decades before MTV’s Cribs or E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Leach’s show exposed viewers to the lavish homes and favorite destinations of famous people, and helped transform celebrity culture into what it is today. The show lasted until 1995, and made Leach an icon of “champagne wishes and caviar dreams,” as he said in his sign-off every episode. He was famously name-checked in the Notorious B.I.G.’s hit “Juicy,” and was parodied on Saturday Night Live.
“It had to be very visual, as we were on TV. The more eye-popping and outrageous, the better, and the longer the subject matter would be,” Leach told AskMen.com about the show in a 2007 interview. “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.”
Leach moved to Las Vegas in 1999, where he started chronicling star-studded events around town for publications like the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was also an early investor in the Food Network.
Leach had been hospitalized ever since suffering a stroke on Nov. 21 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After receiving treatment at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, in July he returned to Las Vegas, his home since 1999. He suffered a second stroke on Monday, according to his Review-Journal colleague John Katsilometes.