Dale Winton 'died of a broken heart' after being ditched by toyboy hairdresser 20 years his junior
The star, who kept a home in the States, was ditched soon after flying his toyboy love to England to meet Elton John.
Friends say he struggled to cope with the split and his health deteriorated rapidly in recent years.
Last Wednesday he was found dead aged 62 at his rented semi in North London.
John Grant, 60, who lived near the presenter’s £680,000, three-bed bolthole close to Sarasota, Florida, revealed: “The depression over the split was going on for years.
“Dale said it took everything out of him. He must have been heavily in love with this person.
“He would say that he couldn’t have fun anymore and that the break-up had got him all f***** up.
“Sometimes he would say he was fabulous, but you could see inside that he wasn’t. The broken heart was killing him for a long time.”
John said the boyfriend used to cut hair in Sarasota. He was rumoured to be dating other people while going out with Dale.
John went on: “I felt Dale’s heart was broken and he couldn’t mend it. The depression came in like a storm. He aged in no time.
“Within the last two years he looked like s***.
John said he always suspected Dale would die too soon and used to check on the star to make sure he hadn’t killed himself. He added: “I always worried that Dale would take his own life one day.”
Mark Collins, 69, lived next door to the star who bought a home in the gated community in 2005.
He said: “Dale took a real big hit when he was dating some younger guy that he really cared for.
“He would do anything in the world for him.
“In fact he guy said that he wanted to meet Elton John, so Dale arranged a meeting.
“He flew the guy to London and they had lunch with Elton. When they came back he kind of dumped him. He just said: ‘Goodbye Dale’.
“Dale went into a tailspin on that one. This was a couple of years ago. He was really upset.”
Dale admitted on TV’s Loose Women two years ago that he’d become depressed after a split.
He said: “It was triggered by a very bad break-up. God, I can’t half pick ‘em!”
Neighbours said the Supermarket Sweep star lit up their street with his cheeky grin on six month breaks to the US. But they said the smile vanished in recent years.
Pal John, a real estate investor, added: “We were tight. He was a good friend. We’d go to Starbucks and have coffee.
“He was doing up his house but in the end he said he’d lost all drive to fix it. That was due to the break-up.
“He felt bad about not going to Cilla Black’s funeral (in Liverpool in 2015). He was depressed about that too. I don’t know whether he was embarrassed to face people because of the way he looked.”
“He took Cilla’s death very badly. But the boyfriend thing always came up.”
Radiologist Mark added: “I probably saw Dale six months ago.
“That time he was standing tilted in one direction with his bad shoulder leaning up, and he had problems with his knees.”
Dale hosted Florida Fly Drive for Channel 5 last year and his pals said he was settled in the Sunshine State. John said: “He loved it here. He was a beautiful person.”
He kept a fleet of cars there including a blue Jaguar, several Bentleys, an Aston Martin and a white Range Rover.
John laughed: “He said he was going to give me one of his cars for my daughter.
It was brand new but he didn’t like the way the air conditioning smelt!”
Mark said Dale once bought a Rolls-Royce before selling it a week later because he felt awkward in it.
He said the star shipped one of his cars to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was attending a country music award show for the BBC.
Mark said: “One time he couldn’t decide if he wanted the hard top or a convertible, so he had the car agency in bring both to his house!
“He’s had at least four Bentleys probably five. He used to change his Bentleys once a year.
“He loved the last one. It was real fancy, about £164,000 and with a £3,500 paint job. And somebody hit him at the front. I don’t know how much the damage was but I know Dale was really upset and got it taken care of immediately.”
He got rid of the Bentley in the last two years. And pals wondered if he had cash-flow problems.
John added: “There were no more good stories from him anymore. The cars started dwindling. I was waiting for the new Bentley, but it didn’t come.
“I began to worry. The lady who looks after his finances didn’t want to pay the landscaper. That wasn’t like Dale. I started wondering who was taking care of his money. I last saw him six weeks ago. He said he was going to buy me champagne for looking after his house in last year’s hurricane. We were going to go to dinner. He didn’t look good after our last conversation so I Googled him a few weeks ago just to see how everything was.
“The last words we said were: ‘I love you’.” I can’t believe this happened to him. I am very hurt. He was a sweetheart.
“A relationship could have fixed his heart. But it would have had to be somebody special.”
Dale told in his autobiography how he popped amphetamine pills for weight loss which kept him awake for three days straight.
He ballooned to 18st when working as a DJ in Nottingham and was prescribed the pills by a private doctor.
Radio bosses were so impressed with his weight loss they ran a Diet With Dale campaign for listeners, unaware of his diet trick.
Dale said: “The first time I took a pill I didn’t sleep for three days. That really triggered the weight loss. I never let on about the amphetamines though.
“Thank goodness, they were taken off the market soon after before I could become addicted.
“I really don’t recommend them for weight loss.”
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