Marcus Levey, who has died at 79, was an artist, showman and nightclub owner, who can lay claim to having brought the swinging sixties to the north.
In the years he and his brothers ran Newcastle’s famed La Dolce Vita, he hosted, among others, Bob Monkhouse, Tommy Cooper, Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones.
Born in Newcastle and raised in Gosforth, he hatched the idea for the club after visiting similar venues in America. The club’s main source of revenue was its casino, but when a change in the gambling laws put paid to it, he moved to Leeds and settled down with his wife-to-be, Michelle.
In the 1990s, he turned to painting and established himself as an artist of some repute. His love of culture manifested itself in large and colourful works described by one critic as “devices for the imagination.”
As well as rubbing shoulders with public figures, particularly from the arts, his charity work also saw him at ease with such politicians as Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
He never lost his ability to push the cultural boundaries, and was not shy of taking risks which others felt too radical.
Praise sometimes came from unexpected quarters, never more so than when the murderous Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie, devoted space in one of their books in praise of the Levey brothers and La Dolce Vita.
He is survived by Michelle, three children, two stepchildren and 18 grandchildren.