Today is the 90th birthday of the actress Diana Dors. Her life was the classic plucked-from-obsurity into fame. She was smart about it and used it to her benefit. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Diana Dors
OCCUPATION: Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: October 23, 1931
DEATH DATE: May 4, 1984
EDUCATION: Royal Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Swindon, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Windsor, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom
REMAINS: Buried, Sunningdale Catholic Cemetery, Sunningdale, Berkshire, England
BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Diana Dors was Britain’s forerunner to Marilyn Monroe, remembered for bringing talent and sensuality to British cinema.
The railway town of Swindon was an unprepossessing start for a starlet, but Diana Dors, born Diana Mary Fluck on October 23, 1931, in Swindon, Wiltshire, England, loved film from the age of 3. Her mother lavished Diana with gifts and her father begrudgingly sent her to the best private schools.
Physically and socially mature for her age, Dors became a pin-up girl at age 13. She lied to the photographers and later directors, claiming that she was 17. Her first flirt with the camera came when she was 15, in The Shop at Sly Corner. She played the beautiful blonde in the background, a role that she was to repeat with frequency, along with that of a gold-digger.
Dors trained at the Royal Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, cornering the market as a sex-pot with character. In 1948, she appeared in six films, some unaccredited walk-ons, others with actual character, her best known role from this time noted as Charlotte in Oliver Twist.
A genius at publicity, whether through her love life or her attire, Dors was a glamour sensation, unrivaled throughout the 1950s and into the ’60s. Over this period, she starred in a wide range of films and on several television series, including Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951), The Great Game (1953), A Kid for Two Farthings (1955), Yield to the Night (1956), The Big Bankroll (1961) and Baby Love in 1968.
Dors was a darling of the tabloid press and a good friend of the notorious East End gangsters, the Kray twins. The actress was also a close friend of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain, after Ellis had a cameo role in Lady Godiva Rides Again.
As age advanced and she was no longer able to rely just on her siren status, Dors developed into a credible character actress in the 1970s, landing roles in such films as The Amazing Mr. Blunden and Steaming. She also tried, but failed, to become a success in Hollywood.
Dors did, however, appear on plenty of popular TV shows during the decade, including Queenie’s Castle between 1970 and 1972, All Our Saturdays (1973), Just William (1977-78) and an episode of the The Sweeny in 1978. Her last jobs included playing Adam Ant’s fairy godmother in the video Prince Charming and an agony aunt on GMTV.
Diana Dors died on May 4, 1984, at the age of 52, from ovarian cancer, which had been diagnosed two years previously, in Windsor, Berkshire, England. She was buried at Sunningdale Catholic Cemetery, having converted to the religion in 1973. Her widower, Alan Lake, burned all of the actress’s clothes following her death, and committed suicide five months later.
Dors left around £2 million in banks around Europe, leaving a secret code to her son, Matthew, to access the fortune. However, because Lake had the key, the money remains unfound to this day.
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Adventures of a Private Eye (Mar-1977)
Keep It Up Downstairs (29-Jul-1976)
Adventures of a Taxi Driver (May-1976)
The Amorous Milkman (Jan-1975)
Steptoe and Son Ride Again (Jul-1973)
Theatre of Blood (5-Apr-1973)
From Beyond the Grave (1973)
The Pied Piper (25-May-1972)
Nothing But the Night (1972)
The Amazing Mr. Blunden (1972)
Hannie Caulder (25-Dec-1971) · Madame
There’s a Girl in My Soup (15-Dec-1970)
Deep End (1-Sep-1970)
Baby Love (Sep-1968)
Berserk! (11-Jan-1968) · Matilda
Danger Route (1967) · Rhoda Goodrich
The Sandwich Man (14-Jan-1966)
West 11 (8-Oct-1963)
King of the Roaring 20’s: The Story of Arnold Rothstein (11-Jun-1961) · Madge
On the Double (19-May-1961) · Sgt. Bridget Stanhope
Scent of Mystery (12-Jan-1960)
I Married a Woman (Mar-1958)
Tread Softly Stranger (1958)
Passport to Shame (1958)
The Long Haul (27-Aug-1957)
The Unholy Wife (24-Jun-1957) · Phyllis
Yield to the Night (18-Nov-1956)
An Alligator Named Daisy (13-Dec-1955)
A Kid for Two Farthings (15-Aug-1955)
Value for Money (9-Aug-1955)
As Long as They’re Happy (15-Mar-1955)
Young and Willing (2-Feb-1954)
It’s a Grand Life (Nov-1953)
The Saint’s Girl Friday (12-Oct-1953)
Man Bait (25-Jan-1952)
Lady Godiva Rides Again (25-Oct-1951)
Dance Hall (Jun-1950)
Diamond City (20-Sep-1949)
A Boy, a Girl and a Bike (23-May-1949)
It’s Not Cricket (Apr-1949)
Vote for Huggett (Feb-1949) · Diana
Here Come the Huggetts (24-Nov-1948) · Diana
Oliver Twist (28-Jun-1948) · Charlotte
The Calendar (25-May-1948)
Good-Time Girl (28-Apr-1948) · Lyla Lawrence