Emmerdale’s Steve Halliwell dies aged 77: Actor who played loveable Zak Dingle for 29 years passes away surrounded by family
Emmerdale star Steve Halliwell has died at the age of 77.
The soap star, best known for playing Zak Dingle, peacefully passed away in a hospice surrounded by his family, ITV revealed on Friday.
Steve was the second longest serving cast member in Emmerdale after joining the cast in 1994. He played the head of the Dingle household and was involved in several explosive storylines alongside his on-off wife Lisa Dingle (Jane Cox).
His family paid tribute to the ‘amazing father and grandfather’ in a heartfelt statement, sharing: ‘He went to sleep, peacefully with his loved ones around him.
‘He was making us laugh to the end, the most amazing father and grandfather you could ever wish for, family was everything to him.’
Emmerdale star Steve Halliwell has died at the age of 77. The soap star, best known for playing Zak Dingle, peacefully passed away in a hospice surrounded by his family
Steve played the head of the Dingle household on Emmerdale and was involved in several explosive storylines alongside his on-off wife Lisa Dingle (played by Jane Cox)
Steve is survived by his wife Val (pictured in 2008) and their daughter Charlotte
They added: ‘We would like to thank the wonderful staff at St James Hospital and the Wheatfield Hospice for their love and kindness in his final days. He didn’t want sadness, just to rejoice in a life well lived.’
Steve is survived by his wife Val and their daughter Charlotte.
ITV shared: ‘All our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones through this very difficult time, and we’d request that their privacy is respected as they grieve for his loss.
‘Steve will forever be synonymous with Emmerdale. The proud defender and head of the Dingle family.
‘Heart and humour in all he did, it has been and always will be impossible not to smile when you think of him.
Steve’s co-stars were quick to pay tribute, with Lisa Riley – who played his on-screen daughter Mandy Dingle – sharing on Instagram: ‘My dearest Steve….love you so much you are now finally at peace. Thank you for years of laughter, you were still laughing right up to the end.
‘Adored, loved,respected by us all, a LEGEND in my eyes that’s for sure-we have stories and memories to last for many more years to come. Sleep well Stevie-our prayers of strength go to Charlotte, Val and Angelina at this really difficult time…our extended family “That boy from Bury did good” #dingle #family #restinpeace #love #legend #memory #rip @emmerdale #emmerdale.’
As Emmerdale shared the news on their Instagram account, Danny Miller, who plays Aaron Livesy, commented: ‘We’ll miss you Steve. Rest well my friend ❤️’
Michelle Hardwick, who plays Vanessa Woodfield, shared: ‘A wonderful man, will be greatly missed. Thinking of his family at this sad time, rest in peace Steve ♥️’
Kelvin Fletcher, who played Andy Sugden, wrote: ‘What a man and what a legacy. So many incredible memories. We had some fun. God Bless ❤️’
Presenter Richard Arnold also commented, writing: ‘So sorry to hear this. What a gent he was. Such wonderful memories of being invited on set and spend time with the Dingle OG. Condolences to the whole ensemble and his loved ones ❤️
John Whiston Managing Director of Continuing Drama & Head of ITV in the North, added: ‘Steve Halliwell was one of those rare human beings who was as wonderful off screen as on.
‘To millions of Emmerdale viewers he was the brawny but crafty Dingle patriarch who led the clan with a strong fist and a warm heart.
‘To everyone who worked on Emmerdale he was a much loved friend and colleague, the undoubted father of the show, but also its fun mischievous uncle. We will miss him enormously.’
Pictured on the soap with (L-R) Marlon Dingle, as played by Mark Charnock ; Mandy Dingle, as played Lisa Riley; Butch Dingle as played by Paul Loughran
Steve (right) is pictured with Danny Miller, who played Aaron Dingle on the soap
Before launching his acting career, Steve was an apprentice at the cotton and paper mills in Bury, Lancashire, where he was born (pictured aged 17)
Steve’s co-stars were quick to pay tribute, with Lisa Riley – who played his on-screen daughter Mandy Dingle – sharing a heartfelt post
As Emmerdale shared the news on their Instagram account, Steve’s co-stars were quick to share tribute
Starring on the soap for nearly three decades made Steve the second longest-serving cast member. His record was beaten only by Chris Chittell, who has played Eric Pollard in the ITV soap since 1986.
In 2018, Steve was forced to take five months off Emmerdale to have a pacemaker fitted after being rushed to hospital for a serious heart operation.
He told The Sun of his recovery: ‘It’s done me the world of good and I feel fantastic. Emmerdale have been brilliant throughout and really looked after me.
‘I did have to spend some time in hospital and it was really funny to see the entire Dingle clan around my bed.
‘Everyone has been so considerate and I know it sounds a bit of a cliché, but we really are one big happy family.’
Steve battled alcoholism and depression for 50 years and entered rehab in 2003 to combat his alcohol addiction.
He also fell in trouble with the law and at one point he was arrested for sleeping rough in an empty government building in London.
Steve shared: ‘I was sent to Ashford remand prison for two weeks and then I was put on probation and sent home.’
Speaking to The Mirror in 2014, he opened about his demons, saying: ‘There’s depression, drinking and having to fight your way out of situations. I’ve lived all those things – and more.’
Steve told the TV Times: ‘I can see a pattern to me leading to playing Zak. I went on a journey and it seemed to be my destiny to play this man who I understood.
‘Everything the Dingles had been through, I had too – trouble with the police, fighting, being evicted. And if there were any aspects of Zak’s life I hadn’t lived, I knew people who had.’
Before launching his acting career, Steve was an apprentice at the cotton and paper mills in Bury, Lancashire, where he was born.
He later honed his craft at the Mountview Theatre School in Peckham, South London, of which Dame Judi Dench is the president.
Before landing his role in Emmerdale, Steve starred on shows such as Here I Stand, Heartbeat and Coronation Street.
In 2018, the star was forced to take five months off work to have a pacemaker fitted after being rushed to hospital for a serious heart operation (pictured on 2014)
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