Richard Blackwell dies in hospital

Los Angeles - Richard Blackwell, the former actor and model who became the scourge of the fashion world with his annual list of "worst dressed" celebrities, has died in hospital at the age of 86, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

His withering evaluations of the fashion sense of movie stars, music icons and European royalty helped turn him into a household name from the 1960s through the '80s.

Some of his earliest barbs targeted style icons like Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor, whose "plump" figures and revealing clothes reminded him of "the rebirth of the zeppelin," he wrote in 1963.

His flair for the ultimate insult remained unbridled for 40 years. He called Britney Spears and Paris Hilton the "Screamgirls" and compared them to "two peas in an overexposed pod."

In his latest list in January 2008, he said of Victoria Beckham: "In one skinny-mini monstrosity after another, pouty posh can really wreck-em," while Amy Winehouse was denigrated as a "50's car-hop horror."

Blackwell was born Richard Sylvan Selzer on August 29, 1922, in a tough part of Brooklyn, New York and spent several stints in homes for troubled boys.

He had modest success as an actor on Broadway and in Hollywood, and credited aviation entrepreneur and movie producer Howard Hughes with changing his name to Richard Blackwell - a name he said sounded "theatrical, polished, memorable."

He started designing clothes for actresses and singers in 1949, but found his glamorous style out of favour in the 1960's as mini-skirts and jeans became fashionable. Blackwell closed his fashion business in the mid-1970s but kept on collating his lists and his fashion barbs to the end. dpa