Keith Floyd's Devastating 2009 Death

Keith Floyd, the man who wore many hats, debuted his first pilot television program in 1984, which would eventually make him famous, according to Bishopston Voice. Known for his charismatic personality, bow tie, and glass of wine, viewers grew to love him, and fame flocked to him fast. However, his life wasn't always in the spotlight.

In his early years, Floyd landed his first job as a reporter at the Bristol Evening Post. Shortly after, he enlisted in the army and became second lieutenant. In the '60s, after suffering from a nervous breakdown, he decided to venture into kitchens and become a cook for the Royal Hotel in Bristol. From there, his passion sparked, and his curiosity led him to France to learn about their cuisine. His career took off as he set out to open up his own restaurants, leading him to food fame.

Keith Floyd, then 41 years old, married to his wife Jesmond Ruttledge and a father of one son, owned and ran four restaurants in France. After separating from Ruttledge, he decided to sell out and sail his yacht for a while. Upon returning to Bristol, he opened up a new bistro and eventually gained recognition through his humorous personality and delicious food. After publishing his first cookbook, David Pritchard, a BBC producer, approached him with a proposal for a cookery slot on television, and from there, he became a star of food entertainment.

Leading up to his death

According to The New York Times, the chef aired 20 different series with BBC, including "Floyd on Fish," "Floyd's American Pie," "Floyd on TV," and more, and also wrote over 20 cookbooks,

His relentless charm and personality drew viewers in, more so than his actual cooking. However, the Irish Independent states that what encouraged his popularity was his unpredictable demeanor, often one glass of red wine away from surprising his audience. This was just the tip of the iceberg, as behind closed doors, Floyd was familiarized with four divorces and conflicted relationships with his two children, which led to lengthy struggles with depression and alcoholism.

After filing bankruptcy, closing a total of 12 restaurants and pubs, and fleeing to different countries, these turns of events led his mental state to paranoia and aggression (per Irish Independent). By 1995, The New York Times states that Floyd was retired in Spain when boredom struck, and money was tight, so his itch to get back on the air was promised. Channel 5 and Sky took him on for several more cooking shows when a sudden tragedy occurred.

Cause of death and legacy

Floyd was battling bowel cancer and had returned to the United Kingdom to start chemotherapy when on September 14, 2009, he suffered a fatal heart attack at the home of his partner, Celia Martin, in Dorset, states The Guardian. Keith Floyd was 65 years old. He was still working with Channel 4 at the time, and according to The New York Times, "Keith on Keith," a new documentary where actor Keith Allen visited Floyd's home in France, debuted within hours of the news of his death.

Influencing the generation we know of today of male celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay, and Nigel Slater, the Irish Independent states that Floyd was the original celebrity chef during a time when cooking was a woman's domestic duty and when male professional chefs stayed back in their restaurant kitchens. According to Mirror, Jamie Oliver, Anthony Warrell Thompson, and Phil Vickery paid tribute to Floyd's death. "Keith was not just one of the best, he was the best television chef. An incredible man who lived life to the full and an inspiration to me and so many others," said Oliver. "I worked with him a lot and I was a good friend of his. I think all of us modern TV chefs owe a living to him. He kind of spawned us all," said Thompson. And lastly, Vickery told BBC News that Keith Floyd was a "master" and "breath of fresh air."