Another entertainment industry legend has fallen. Radio and television personality Mark Pilgrim passed away yesterday morning after a long battle with cancer. Mark Pilgrim was 53 and leaves behind girlfriend Adrienne and two daughters. He documented his battle with cancer until the very end, with friends and fans joining him on his journey. He was…
Another entertainment industry legend has fallen. Radio and television personality Mark Pilgrim passed away yesterday morning after a long battle with cancer.
Mark Pilgrim was 53 and leaves behind girlfriend Adrienne and two daughters. He documented his battle with cancer until the very end, with friends and fans joining him on his journey.
He was always in good spirit and served as a beacon of encouragement to thousands of people struggling with cancer or, in fact, any of life’s challenges.
Pilgrims fight against cancer
Pilgrim’s fight, his powerful stride and strength was inspiring to everyone. One of Pilgrim’s final posts on Twitter, a month ago, read: ‘A lot of sleeping the last few days. Body is depleted. After chemo and immune (therapy) last Thursday it’s just been pouring out both ends. I’m like a shrivelled pea.”
A month before that, he posted another painful part of his journey: ‘Really skinny at the moment. Having more fluid drained from abdomen so my tummy has a bit of space for food. It’s a journey. It’s not easy. Baby steps. Still have the end goal in sight where myself, Adrienne and the girls are walking on the beach with our future golden retriever.”
Devastating impact on South Africa’s entertainment industry
It was another devastating moment for the South African entertainment industry in a year that’s already seen hip-hop star AKA gunned down and, months before that, several other legends pass away.
Kevin Savage, Barry Ronge, Anthony Duke, Kuli Roberts and John Berks count among the voices we will never hear again.
Pilgrim was first diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer in 1988, and it spread to both his lungs and kidneys before treatment put the disease into remission.
It wasn’t until early last year that the disease returned as stage 4 lung cancer.
Pilgrim’s successful radio career
Pilgrim’s radio career started on campus radio where he was a presenter on Voice of WITS throughout the ’80s. He joined 5FM, under the mentorship of the late Anthony Duke, in 1995 and a dozen years later, 94.7 Highveld Stereo.
In 2014 he retired from the airwaves but later made a comeback on community station Hot 91.9. In 2021 he was inducted into the Radio Awards Hall of Fame for his contribution to radio in South Africa.
He was also a well loved voice-over artist and hosted the first ever Big Brother series, with Bad Brad and Leigh Bennie, in 2001 amongst several other television presenting stints.
Since his passing, the public and entertainment industry friends and colleagues have paid tribute to a man whose demeanour and kindness was legendary.
Sport presenter and former colleague Cindy Poluta tweeted: ‘You put up a very strong and brave fight. Rest in peace, condolences to Mark’s friends and family, especially his two daughters.”
Eusebius McKaiser tweeted: ‘You, Sir, lived through illness till the end. A great creative and audio legend.”
Singer Brandon October echoed the sentiments of many: ‘Legend of radio and a good human. His positivity was inspiring. He’ll be missed.”
Boity Thulo wished Pilgrim a peaceful rest and said that as God welcomed him with open arms, so too she wished that his family and loved ones were comforted.
5FM contemporary Alex Jay said in a tweet: ‘Ah, Mark… You put up a very brave and public fight against cancer. Inspirational. Sadly, the dread disease has claimed another victim. I’m going to miss you big time, baldy. Gone too soon.”
The volume of tributes was so high that late into yesterday the hashtag #RIPMarkPilgrim was trending in SA.
Another tweet encapsulated what many South Africans felt on the day: ‘You gave us so much hope. I really rooted for you to recover.”
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