Robin Leach, who became a symbol of unapologetic opulence as host of the popular syndicated television show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in the 1980s and 90s, died on Friday in Las Vegas. He was 76.
John Katsilometes, a columnist at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where Mr. Leach was also a columnist, announced the death on Twitter. He said Mr. Leach had had a stroke in November and another on Aug. 20.
With his distinctive, British-accented voice and exuberant, exclamation-point delivery, Mr. Leach was widely recognized and just as widely parodied during the initial run of the show, from 1984 to 1995, and long after.
Lifestyles, which seemed omnipresent on television for years, featured celebrities, business moguls and others with extreme wealth, and its success resulted in spinoff shows such as Runaway With the Rich and Famous.
Mr. Leach was often criticized for glorifying extravagance and serving up softball questions to his interview subjects. But he was unapologetic.
“Everybody makes a mistake thinking America resents wealth and resents what I’m doing,” he told The Boston Globe in 1987. He viewed the show as embodying the values of a capitalist society.
“No one would watch Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown,” he said.
Robin Douglas Leach was born Aug. 29, 1941, in London and grew up in Harrow. He worked as a reporter for the Daily Mail before moving to the United States in 1963 “with either $145 or $156 in his pocket,” The Boston Globe said in a 1987 profile, depending on which version of the story he told.
He sold children’s shoes briefly in New York before getting a job with the Daily News. He founded Go Magazine, a music publication, in the mid-1960s, and sold it a few years later at a profit.
Leach worked for The Star and CNN and on the early episodes of Entertainment Tonight before coming up with Lifestyles with producer Alfred Masini.
“It took Jimmy Carter to exit the White House to really get things going,” he told The Globe. “Because the Reagans brought in an aura of wealth."
Lifestyles did segments on countless wealthy people – Donald Trump appeared repeatedly – with Mr. Leach propelling the show along with that signature voice.
Mr. Leach generally took the many parodies of him and his show in stride. Among the more memorable Leach impersonations was Dana Carvey’s on Saturday Night Live. Mr. Carvey said Leach was always a willing target.
“Robin Leach thankfully loved my impression of him,” he said by e-mail. “Over the years he would catch my act in Vegas, and I always made a point to do him directly to him. He would laugh uproariously and then heckle me in his distinctive booming voice: ‘If you’re gonna do me I should get paid!’ He was fun to talk to – incredibly charming and smart.”
In the mid-1990s, Lifestyles took on a co-host and became Lifestyles With Robin Leach and Shari Belafonte for a final season.
His marriage to Judith Desser, in 1968, ended in divorce in 1977. He leaves three sons and several grandchildren.