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Actor honours old friend Ted Kennedy

AN Irish 'Les Miserables' singer is to release an album dedicated to his "old friend" the late US senator Ted Kennedy who died last summer.

Colm Wilkinson (64) says his friend of 25 years was on his mind last week, when the Republican Party took the senate seat that had been held by Ted Kennedy for 48 years and by his brother, JFK, before him.

"It would have upset Ted terribly. This is a huge blow to the Kennedys," said Colm.

It was in March of last year that the Drimnagh-born star of Broadway musicals 'Les Miserables' and 'Phantom Of The Opera' last saw Ted Kennedy, who was then battling cancer, when he performed at the senator's 77th birthday celebrations in Washington.

He recalled: "I was up on stage, singing 'Sweet Rosie O'Grady', with president Obama in the audience.

"After the concert, I went up to say hello. Ted looked so frail but he still managed to sing 'Bring Him Home', my song from 'Les Miserables'."

The pair became friends in 1986 when Kennedy went backstage at a performance of 'Les Miserables' in Washington.

The Irish stage star has also holidayed with the politician on his yacht off Cape Cod.

He said: "My own favourite memory of Ted is when I got on stage with him at a charity fundraiser that his sister, Jean Kennedy-Smith -- then the US ambassador -- had organised in The Burlington Hotel in 1988.

"Someone offered IR£5,000 to the charity if Ted would get up and sing. Of course, he did and there's a picture of him asking me to get up with him."

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Colm performed numerous private concerts for the late senator over the years, so he has dedicated his new album, 'Broadway and Beyond: The Concert Songs', to Ted Kennedy.

The album is available from The National Concert Hall.

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