Showbiz legend Cilla Black, who also had two number one singles at the start of a career stretching over 50 years, died in Spain.

A Spanish police spokeswoman confirmed today that Cilla had died at her Spanish home in Estepona on the Costa del Sol.

She said: “I can confirm the death of British national Priscilla White, aged 72.”

“We are still awaiting autopsy results but everything at this stage is pointing towards her death being the result of natural causes.”Police sources said they thought the death had occurred overnight and they believed Cilla, who suffered from hearing problems and arthritis, had jetted to Spain a few days ago with one of her three sons.

An autopsy is due to take place tomorrow in the provincial capital Malaga.

"It is with deep sorrow that I confirm today the passing of singer & TV personality Cilla Black.

"Details of her death will be announced following the coroner's report. Her family have asked for their privacy to be respected at this time," a representative for Cilla said in a statement.

Cillla's eldest son and manager Robert was thought to be staying at another house nearby.

A pal said: "He is obviously very upset at what happened and does not want to talk publicly about it at the moment."

A family friend said Cilla's other two sons, Ben and Jack, were told the sad news last night and had made arrangements to fly to Spain.

Cilla was married for 30 years to her manager Bobby Willis until he died in 1999 of lung cancer, aged just 57, leaving her bereft.

They spent many happy hours around the Costa Del Sol property's swimming pool and she also brought friends Cliff Richard, Paul O'Grady and Dale Winton.

She often flew to Spain in the summer months but also had homes in London, Buckinghamshire and Barbados.

The villa where it happened - in a quiet cul-de-sac just west of Marbella - nearly went up in flames last summer after a careless youngster discarded a cigarette under her hedge.

A quick-thinking neighbour saved the stars property by dashing out in his pyjamas and a hose after spotting the bush around the property had caught light.

The Liverpudlian star was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White on May 27 1943.

She was championed by The Beatles and enjoyed eleven top ten hits including chart-toppers Anyone Who Had a Heart and You're My World.

Last year she spoke to the Mirror about growing older, saying: “Seventy-five is a good age to go.

“If things are starting to drop off – like the hearing – and I’ve got twinges in the morning, I do think that.”

Her close pal, fellow Merseyside entertainer Paul O'Grady, said: “We’ve been friends for nearly 20 years. She’s like my sister.

“Apart from her hearing she was alright. I thought she was well. I kept telling her she’d outlive us all. She’s such a strong lady.

"It was difficult because she couldn’t hear so it became texting but then we’d manage to get her.”

And comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, who had been friends with Cilla for more than half a century, described the news as “staggering”.

The 75-year-old said: “She was the total rags-to-riches story. Totally. She was Liverpool’s Cinderella, and she did go to the ball. What a career. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful career.

“She reached the heights, she epitomised the word star. A lot of people don’t. They call them that. But she was a star.

“She was the girl next door that everybody loved and would have loved as a daughter, a daughter-in-law.”

He added: “I remember her for the stupid laughs we had; at her birthday party, the last big one.

“She was a star all over the world, everybody knew her and that one name Cilla. That’s all you had to say. Only a few people get that – Ringo, Sinatra, Presley. And that’s the company she kept.

“She was just a delightful, lovely, natural Scouse girl. And I’ll miss her.”

Highly regarded for as a pioneer for women in media, Cilla hosted more than 500 editions of her TV programmes and was the first woman to have her own prime-time chat show on BBC One.

Andrew Newman, the chairman of Bafta's television committee, previously said: "From hosting her own show for the BBC in '68 to defining ITV entertainment throughout the '80s and '90s, Cilla has been an extremely popular and hugely influential entertainer throughout her long career in television ."

Speaking in May last year, showbiz legend Cilla Black said she is ‘over the moon’ to be receiving an outstanding contribution prize at the Bafta Television Awards .

"I am thrilled to be honoured with this award - I am totally delighted,” she said. “I've been very fortunate to have a long and full career in television and this means the world to me."

Cilla’s rise to stardom was recently told in an award-winning three-part drama starring Sheridan Smith.

Of watching the show, Cilla, she said: “It’s a strange experience seeing other people recreating your life… I was a bit worried when I heard that Sheridan was playing me because I’d only ever seen her as Mrs Biggs.”

She added: “I needn’t have worried because Sheridan is absolutely terrific.”

Cilla married her manager Bobby in 1963 and was desperate to be a star.

“Bobby was offered his own recording contract,” she had said.

“But I made him say no. There was only room for one ego in our relationship."

Cilla is understood to have flown to the Costa del Sol earlier in the week.