Stars have paid tribute to George Michael's sister Melanie Panayiotou, 55, who died on the third anniversary of the “Faith” hitmaker's passing.
Melanie was found dead at her home in London on Christmas Day, the same day her brother, musical icon George - born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou – passed away three years earlier at the age of 53.
Andrew Ridgeley, George’s former Wham! bandmate tweeted a heartfelt message after hearing the ‘tragic’ news.
“Utterly tragic news of Mel Panayiotou’s passing. My thoughts are with her sister and father at this desperately sad time,” he wrote.
Bridesmaids director Paul Feig also took to Twitter to remember ‘Mel,’ who played a large role in securing the rights to George’s songs for use in his latest film, Last Christmas.
“This is so incredibly awful. Melanie was so instrumental in getting us the songs we needed for @lastchristmas,” he wrote.
“It is just unbearably sad. There are no words. RIP Mel and so much love to the rest of the family,” he added.
Last Christmas’ leading man, British actor Henry Golding, also shared his condolences by replying to Paul’s tweet.
“Oh no... That is terribly sad news,” he wrote.
Henry’s co-stars Emma Thompson - who also wrote the film - and Game Of Thrones’ Emilia Clark, does not appear to have made a comment at this stage.
Melanie gave Emilia her blessing in an interview in the November issue of the UK’s Big Issue magazine, saying that her brother would’ve loved the star’s smile.
“I am sure he will be enjoying seeing [Emilia Clarke]’s amazing light bulb smile, something they share, across the celestial miles!” she said.
Melanie Panayiotou’s ‘sudden’ passing
Melanie, a hairdresser, was reportedly found by her older sister Yioda Panayiotou, with a representative for the late Wham! star confirming the tragic news in a statement.
“We can confirm that very tragically Melanie has passed away suddenly. We would simply ask that the family's privacy be respected at this very sad time. There will be no further comments,” they told the Daily Mirror newspaper.
A statement from the Metropolitan Police described Melanie’s death as ‘sudden’ although her cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
“Police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 19:35hrs on Wednesday, 25 December to reports of the sudden death of a woman, aged in her 50s, at an address in Oak Hill Park, NW3,” the statement read.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious by police. A report will be compiled for the Coroner into the circumstances,” it concluded.
Melanie’s brother George passed away in 2016 due to dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and a fatty liver and was found by his on/off boyfriend of seven years, Fadi Fawaz.
Earlier this year details of the icon’s will were released, revealing he left none of his $177 million fortune to Aussie-born Fadi, a former celebrity hairdresser.
Instead, George’s two sisters Melanie and Yioda and his dad, Kyriacos, were well taken care of by his estate.
‘Staying positive’ for 2020
Just days before her death, Melanie had issued a joint statement with the rest of the Panayiotou family thanking George’s - or Yog as his family called him - fans and pledging to stay ‘as positive as possible’ going into the new year.
"It seems important that [George's] generosity of spirit and natural empathy have touched you in a way that would have him embarrassed, all your kind words are really good to hear and we know you have always known his true heart.
“We will be swerving the bad and enjoying the good as much as we can this coming year (2019 has been difficult and busy for George's hardworking team).
“We are, as usual, staying as positive as possible, which is what we and Yog would wish for you all, and we are all hoping for a peaceful 2020. (Wow 2020! - when you grew up with Yog, that used to seem so far away but, here we are folks - It's the future)!!!”
With BANG Showbiz.