“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father, Johnny Briggs,” a statement said.
“He passed away peacefully this morning after a long illness, with family by his side. He was 85.”
Briggs’s family requested privacy in order to “quietly grieve as a family and remember the wonderful times we had with him”.
First appearing in Coronation Street in 1976, Briggs went on to star in 2,349 episodes of the soap, leaving in 2006. He cited the intense filming schedule as the reason for his departure.
His character, who had been ill with Alzheimer’s for several months, was killed off in a moving scene with Ken Barlow – played by William Roache – after escaping from hospital then suffering a heart attack.
The two characters had been embroiled in a feud for years over the affection’s of Ken’s longtime love, Deirdre (the late Anne Kirkbride).
The saga was a fan favourite that even had Briggs’s co-stars transfixed.
“It was compulsive viewing, you couldn’t help but watch,” Beverley Callard said in a Coronation Street special about Ken Barlow.
“They were natural enemies, those two, and I never knew how much of it was for real!” Amanda Barrie said.
The feud was so famous that it regularly made national headlines. When Deirdre eventually chose Ken in February 1983, the news was announced on the message board at Old Trafford during the League Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Arsenal.
The message read: “Ken and Deirdre reunited – Ken 1 Mike 0”, prompting roars of approval from the crowd.
Briggs, who also had roles in Carry On films and Holby City, received a lifetime achievement award at the British Soap Awards in 2006.
He was awarded an MBE in the new year honours in 2007.