Sunday, January 27, 2013

Diana Dors (23 October 1931 – 4 May 1984) was an English actress, born Diana Mary Fluck in SwindonWiltshire. Considered the English equivalent of the blonde bombshells of Hollywood, Dors described herself as "the only sex symbol Britain has produced since Lady Godiva.

Diana Mary Fluck was born in ­SwindonWiltshire, on 23 October 1931, at the Haven Nursing Home. Her mother Winifred Maud Mary (Payne) was married to Albert Edward Sidney Fluck, but had a sexual relationship with their lodger, Gerald Lack. When Mary announced she was pregnant with Diana, she admitted she had no clear idea which of them was the father.
Educated at Colville House, like many children of the time Diana enjoyed the cinema; her heroines from age 8 onwards were the Hollywood sirens Veronica LakeLana Turner and Jean Harlow.

Having excelled in her elocution studies, after lying about her age, at age 14 she was offered a place to study at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), becoming the college's youngest ever student. She lodged at the Earls Court YWCA, and supplemented her £2 per week allowance, most of which was spent on her lodgings, by posing for the London Camera Club for one guinea (£1.05) an hour. Signed to the Gordon Harbord Agency, in her first term she won a bronze medal, awarded by Peter Ustinov, and in her second won a silver with honours, awarded by casting director Eric L'Epine Smith.

She had already acted in public theatre pieces for LAMDA productions; Smith got her into her first film part with a walk-on piece that developed into a speaking part in The Shop at Sly Corner, at a rate of £8 per day for three days. During the signing of contracts, in agreement with Diana and her father, Smith changed her contractual surname to Dors, the maiden name of her maternal grandmother, on the initial suggestion of her mother Mary. Dors later commented on her name

"They asked me to change my name. I suppose they were afraid that if my real name Diana Fluck was in lights and one of the lights blew" ...

Returning to LAMDA, two weeks later she was asked by her agent to audition to for Holiday Camp, by dancing a Jitterbug with fellow young actor John Blythe. Gainsborough Studios gave her the part at a pay rate of £10 per day for four days. Her next film was Dancing with Crime, shot at Twickenham Studios opposite Richard Attenborough during thecoldest winter for nearly fifty years, for which she was paid £10 per day for fifteen days. Following her return to LAMDA, and having won over Principal Wilfred Foulis, she graduated in spring 1947 by winning the London Films Cup, awarded to LAMDA by Sir Alexander Korda. She timed her return to Swindon to visit her parents, with the local release of The Shop at Sly Corner.
Now, age 16, she was signed under contract to the Rank Organisation, and joined J. Arthur Rank's "Charm School" for young actors, subsequently appearing in many of their films. She played a number of supporting roles, where in her early films, Dors' chest was in part strapped down, and with her natural hair brown, allowed her full and developing acting ability to come through. She made her leading role breakthrough in 1949's Diamond City, a commercially unsuccessful story of a boom town in South Africa in 1870.
After an appearance with Barbara Murray in The Cat and the Canary at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing, she was contracted out to Elstree Studios. They cast her in the play Man of the World with Lionel Jeffries, which opened at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, and capped her works that year to win her Theatre World magazine's Actress of the Year Award. However, with Rank now £18 million in debt, Rank closed their "Charm School", and made Dors redundant.
With her then boyfriend in jail, and having just undergone her first abortion, Dors met Dennis Hamilton Gittins in May 1951 while filming Lady Godiva Rides Again for Rank, a film which created first or early appearances for Joan CollinsSid James and a then four months pregnant Ruth Ellis.[1] Hamilton romanced Dors, and quickly won her heart, with the couple marrying only five weeks later at Caxton Hall on Monday 3 July 1951. From this point forward and driven by his publicity focus, her appearance became classical sex symbol and markedly similar to Marilyn Monroe's. She often played characters suffering from unrequited love, and so successful was the transformation that by the mid-1950s Dors was known as "the English Marilyn Monroe." Hamilton also made sure that she had the lifestyle attachments of a sex symbol, agreeing to a lease-deal with Rolls Royce such that a headline could be created in the tabloids that at aged 20, she was the youngest registered keeper of a Rolls-Royce in the UK.
There were no limits to which it is alleged Hamilton would go to advance Dors' career, and his income or influence from it. Many biographers, writers and peers after her death said that Hamilton would loan Dors out as a favour to hiring producers and leading actors, much as in the casting couch practices of Hollywood. In 1954, Hamilton had the idea to exploit the new printed technology of 3D. He engaged photographer Horace Roye to take a number of nude and semi-nude photographs of Dors, which Hamilton subsequently had published in two forms. The semi-nude where her modesty is unseen by the camera, or covered with white faux fur, were issued as a "Diana Dors 3D: the ultimate British Sex Symbol" set, which sold together with a pair of 3D glasses, capped her as the true ultimate British sex symbol. The full nude test shot photographs became part of Roye's 1954 booklet "London Models".
Following the success of 1952 British noir film The Last Page, producer Robert L. Lippert offered her a one-picture deal on one condition: that she divorce Dennis Hamilton Gittins. Dors refused. She gained a second Hollywood offer from Burt Lancaster for a lead role in his 1954 production His Majesty O'Keefe, but this time Hamilton turned down the part on her behalf before she even knew of the offer. The result was that her early promising career was restricted from this point forward to mainly British films. According to film buffs, her best work as an actress was when she played a murderess in the 1956 film Yield to the Night. She showed her capability in her willingness to play repulsive characters in films, such as The Amazing Mr. BlundenThe Unholy Wife, and Timon of Athens. British exhibitors voted her the ninth most popular British star at the box office in 1955.

Dors never had quite the same following in the United States, owing to her husband Hamilton. Pre-signing a three-film contract with RKO Pictures, on 20 June 1956 she left Southampton on board the Queen Elizabeth for New York, and then onwards to Hollywood to start shooting The Unholy Wife and I Married a Woman. Due to meet Hollywood columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, interviews were arranged to be held at the Hollywood home of her friend, the celebrity hairdresser Teasy-Weasy Raymond, who owned a Spanish-style villa off Sunset Boulevard, formerly owned by Marlene Dietrich. To coincide with the publication of the articles, Hamilton and Raymond arranged a Hollywood launch party at Raymond's house in August 1956, with a guest list that included: Doris DayEddie FisherZsa Zsa GaborLiberace, Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers and John Wayne. After 30 minutes while lining up next to Raymond's pool with her US agent Louis Shurr and her dress designer Howard Shoup, all four including Dors and Hamilton were pushed into the pool after the party crowd and photographers surged forward. Hamilton emerged drenched from the pool, and hit the first photographer before he could be restrained. The following days headlines in the National Enquirer read: "Miss Dors Go Home – And Take Mr Dors With You.” Because of the resulting negative publicity, the couple failed to buy Lana Turner's house, settling into a rental property in Coldwater Canyon.

Dors had an alleged affair with Rod Steiger during the filming of The Unholy Wife, which he broke off in October 1956 after Hamilton started an affair with Raymond's estranged wife in London, and his sole management of his alleged mistress Shirley Ann Field. After Dors announced her subsequent separation from Hamilton, RKO cancelled the contract on a moral clause because of her pending divorce, after only 1958's The Unholy Wife and I Married a Woman were completed. Dors left Hollywood, staying in the Dorchester in London for a single night, before reconcilling with Hamilton for a period.
Subsequently she had her US films distributed under the stage name Diana d'Ors to avoid bad publicity. In more recent years Dors has made a wider US break through owing to her films having been shown on classic film channels such as Turner Classic Movies.
During the summer of 1961, she taped "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", based on Robert Bloch's story "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The episode was so gruesome that it was banned by the NBC Television Network and sponsor Revlon, and not released for many decades. Dors also starred in a 1963 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour titled "Run for Doom," co-starring John Gavin.
In February 1957 while filming The Long Haul, Dors started a relationship with co-star Victor Mature's stuntman, the actor Tommy Yeardye. Hamilton discovered the relationship through his 8mm movie camera filming of his wife's flat and caravan, and so started another period of separation, which this time led to the start of divorce proceedings.
Following her final separation from her husband Hamilton in 1958, bringing an end to her RKO contract on moral clause grounds, Dors discovered from her accountants that her company Diana Dors Ltd was in serious debt. Hamilton had steered the company toward the dual purpose of publicising Diana and fulfilling his own dreams, over paying tax bills and establishing financial stability.
Having been forced at gunpoint by Hamilton to sign over all of her assets on their separation, and now in desperate need of money to pay both her divorce lawyers and their accountants, she agreed to the suggestion of agent Joseph Collins (father of Jackie and Joan Collins), to undertake a theatre-based UK cabaret tour, that later extended into Europe and North America, under the title of "The Diana Dors Show". Her boyfriend Yeardye suggested that they hire the comedian Dickie Dawson, whom they had seen at New York's Stork Club. Dawson subsequently scripted the show and wrote most of the material. Finding Dawson very funny, Dors started a relationship with him and then ended the relationship with Yeardye, who subsequently emptied her cash box at Harrods of £18,000 and sold his story to the media. This brought negative publicity to the show, but audience numbers remained high, which allowed Dors extra time to explain her affairs to a subsequent HM Revenue and Customs investigation of her cash holdings. After marrying Dawson in New York whilst making an appearance on The Steve Allen Show in 1959, the theatre-based The Diana Dors Show was commissioned for two studio-based series on television at ITV.

After the birth of her first child in February 1960, and wishing to stay in the United States as a family unit with Dawson, Dors undertook a cabaret contract to headline at the Dunes hotel and casino in Las VegasNevada.

Dors divorced Dawson in 1966 and returned to the U.K., leaving behind her two sons Mark and Gary. Mark never forgave her and was belligerent whenever they saw each other. Her youngest son, by her third marriage, Jason Lake, believed that her feelings of guilt about abandoning her sons may have contributed to her developing cancer. She returned to UK cabaret and subsequently was served with a writ of bankruptcy in which she owed HMRC £40,208. But as her popularity had fallen, this time she was touring working men's clubs.
The earliest recordings of Dors were two sides of a 78-rpm single released on HMV Records in 1951. The tracks were "I Feel So Mmmm" and "A Kiss and a Cuddle (and a Few Kinds Words From You)". HMV also released sheet music featuring sultry photos of Dors on the cover. She also sang "The Hokey Pokey Polka" on the 1954 soundtrack for the film As Long As They're Happy.
Dors recorded only one complete album, Swinging Dors, in 1960. The LP was originally released on red vinyl. The orchestra was conducted by Wally StottSwinging Dors was, obviously, a swing album, and Dors demonstrated a likeable, unaffected singing voice.
She also sang as a special guest for the Italian TV show Un, due, tre (One, two, three, starring Ugo Tognazzi and Raimondo Vianello) on 31 May 1959, at the Teatro della Fiera in Milan, with orchestra conducted by Mario Bertolazzi.
She continued to record singles on various labels: "It's Too Late"/"So Little Time" (Fontana, 1964), "Security"/Gary" (Polydor, 1966), "Passing By"/"It's A Small World" (EMI 1977), and in 1982, although battling cancer, she recorded a single for the Nomis label, "Where Did They Go?"/"It's You Again" (a duet with her son, Gary Dawson)
Still making headlines in the News of the World and other print media in the late 1970s thanks to her adult parties, in her later years, Dors' status began to revive.
Although her film work consisted mainly of sex comedies, her popularity climbed thanks to her television work, where her wit, intelligence and catchy one-liners developed as a cabaret performer won over viewers. She became a regular on Jokers WildBlankety Blank and Celebrity Squares, and was a regular guest on BBC Radio 2's The Law Game. A popular chat show guest, Russell Harty filmed an entire show – Russell Harty: At Home with Dors – in the pool room of her home, Orchard Manor. Younger musical artists engaged her persona, brought about after the 1981 Adam and the Ants music video Prince Charming, where she played the fairy godmother opposite Adam Ant, who played a male Cinderella figure.
Having turned her life story into a cash flow through interviewed and leaked tabloid stories, like many celebrities in their later careers she turned to the autobiography to generate retirement cash. Between 1978 and 1984, she published four auto-biographical books under her own name:
  • Diana Dors (14 February 1978). For Adults Only. Star. .
  • Diana Dors (February 1979). Behind Closed Dors. Star. 
  • Diana Dors (15 October 1981). Dors by Diana. Futura Publications. 
  • Diana Dors (1984). A. to Z. of Men. Futura Publications.

Having gone through her first round of cancer treatment, by the early 1980s Dors hour-glass figure had become plumper, and she addressed the issue through co-authoring a diet book, and creating a diet and exercise VHS videocassette. This resulted in her joining the cast of the ITV breakfast show, TV-am, in the summer of 1983, in a regular slot focusing on diet and nutrition, which later developed into an agony aunt segment. But as the cancer treatment took its toll again, her appearances became fewer and fewer.
in the 1980's
Dors was married three times:
  • Dennis Hamilton Gittins (3 July 1951 – 3 January 1959, his death): married five weeks after meeting, at Caxton Hall; no children; lived in London, Berkshire, and Hollywood
  • Richard Dawson (12 April 1959 – 1966, div.): married in New York; two sons, Mark Dawson and Gary Dawson; lived in London, New York, and Hollywood
  • Alan Lake (23 November 1968 – her death): married at Caxton Hall; one son, Jason Lake; lived at Orchard Manor, SunningdaleBerkshire.
In 1949 while filming Diamond City, she had a relationship with businessman Michael Caborn-Waterfield, the son of the Count Del-Colnaghi, who later founded the Ann Summerschain, which he named after his cousin/secretary. During the short relationship, Dors fell pregnant, but Caborn-Waterfield paid for a back-street abortion, which took place on a kitchen table in Battersea. The relationship continued for a time, before Dors met Dennis Hamilton Gittins on the set of Lady Godiva Rides Again, with whom she had a second abortion in 1951.

Dors became 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, four years before she was executed byAlbert Pierrepoint, having admitted to and been found guilty of shooting her lover. Through her husband Hamilton, Dors was also close friends with the notorious Kray twins and their mother Violet.
Dors became an early focus for the "celebrity exposé" tabloid headlines, most regularly for Rupert Murdoch's News of the World. In a great part, she created this herself in her desperate need for cash, giving an interview after her separation from Hamilton in 1958, which described their lives and adult group parties in full, frank detail. The interview was subsequently serialised in the tabloid for 12 weeks, followed by an extended 6-week series of fake and real stories from fake, real and anonymous friends, adding to her negative publicity. Subsequently the Archbishop of CanterburyGeoffrey Fisher denounced Dors as a "wayward hussy".
During, and after the end of, her relationship with Hamilton, and up to months before her death, Dors regularly held adult parties at her homes. There, a number of celebrities and young starlets were in close contact, with ample supplies of alcohol and drugs, against a background of both soft and hard core porn films. Dors gave all her guests full access to the entire private house which, her son Jason Lake later alleged in various media interviews and publications, she had had pre-wired with 8mm movie cameras. The young starlets were made aware of the arrangement, and were allowed to attend for free in return for making sure that their celebrity performed in bed at the right camera angle. Dors would then enjoy watching the unedited films the following morning, keeping an archive of the best performances.
Television news and film media companies with broader interests, partly because of her popularity and partly because of those who were also attending the parties, were unwilling to echo or repeat the stories until well after Dors' death. Her former lover and party attender Bob Monkhouse later commented in interview after Dors' death, "The awkward part about an orgy, is that afterwards you're not too sure who to thank."

Delahaye Roadster
In 1948, when Dors was 17, a benefactor/admirer bought her a Delahaye Roadster 175S for £5,000. At the time she did not have a driving licence; she finally got one on 15 December 1955 in Slough. The car was sold at auction in California in August 2010 for $3 million.
Diana Dors died aged 52, on 4 May 1984, from a recurrence of ovarian cancer, first diagnosed two years before.[1] Having converted to Roman Catholicism in spring 1973 following Alan Lake's release from a 12-month period in jail for affray, at her funeral she was dressed wearing a gold lamé evening dress with cape, and a gold "dors" necklace, which she was wearing when she died. After a service at the Sacred Heart Church in Sunningdale on 11 May 1984, conducted by Father Theodore Fontanari, she was buried in Sunningdale Catholic Cemetery.
After her death, Alan Lake immediately burnt all of Dors' remaining clothes, and then fell into a depression. On 10 October 1984, after taking their son to the railway station, he returned to their Sunningdale home, and undertook a telephone interview with Daily Express journalist Jean Rook. He then walked into their son's bedroom, and committed suicide by firing a shotgun into his mouth. He was 43. This was five months after her death from cancer, and sixteen years to the day since they had first met.

Her home for the previous 20 years, Orchard Manor, was sold off by the solicitors. The house's contents were bulk-sold by Sotheby's, who sold off her jewellery collection in a bespoke auction. After solicitors' bills, outstanding tax payments, death duties, and various other outstanding cost distributions, the combined estate of Dors and Lake left little for the upkeep of their son (age 14), who was subsequently made a ward of court to his half-brother Gary Dawson in Los Angeles.
Alleged Fortune
Before she died, Dors apparently hid away what she claimed to be over £2 million in banks across Europe. In 1982, she gave her son Mark Dawson a sheet of paper, which she told him was a code that would reveal the whereabouts of the money. Her widower Alan Lake supposedly had the key that would crack the code, but as he had committed suicide five months after Dors died, Dawson was left with an apparently unsolvable code.
Dawson sought out computer forensic specialists Inforenz, who recognised the encryption as the Vigenère cipher. Inforenz then used their own cryptanalysis software to suggest a ten-letter decryption key, DMARYFLUCK (short for Diana Mary Fluck, Dors's real name). Although Inforenz was then able to decode the entire message and link it to a bank statement found in some of Lake's papers, the location of the money is still unknown.
Some speculate presently whether there may have been a second sheet, whose information might have led to the discovery of the money. Channel 4 made a television programme about the mystery, and created a website (now removed) where users could learn more and help solve the mystery.
Personal Quotes

I said to this priest, "Am I expected to believe that if I went out and had an affair that God was really going to be upset? Okay, thou shalt not kill . . . steal . . . but thou shalt not commit adultery? If no one is any the wiser, what the hell difference does it make?" He was lovely. He told me the Commandments were laid down for a lot of guys living in the desert.

I was the first home-grown sex symbol, rather like Britain's naughty seaside postcards. When Marilyn Monroe's first film was shown here [The Asphalt Jungle (1950)], a columnist actually wrote, "How much like our Diana Dors she is".

Son, with Alan LakeJason Dors Lake.
Sons, with Richard DawsonMark Dawson and Gary Dawson.
In her final years, Diana spent a lot of time working for various religious and charity groups.
In 1972, she joined a campaign aimed at allowing prisoners to have sexual intercourse with their wives, in jail.
In 1974, she contracted meningitis but miraculously survived. 8 years later she was diagnosed as having cancer from which she died in 1984.
Her third and last husband, Alan Lake, committed suicide five months after her death.
A tribute to Diana Dors, "Good Day", was written by Ray Davies after her death and is included on The Kinks' Word Of Mouth CD.

At age twenty she was the youngest registered owner of a Rolls Royce in the country.
Former mother-in-law of Cathy Hughart Dawson.
She never owned a mansion without a swimming pool. It was her ambition as a child playing in a mud pond in her front yard to have her own swimming pool when she grew up.
Met future husband Alan Lake in October 1968 on the set of 'The Peeling of Sweet P Lawrence'. This was an episode of "The Inquisitors", an ITV adventure series produced by LWT which commenced production but was never broadcast.

Mykie's Note:

I have to admit that Actress/singer Diana Dors is rather new to me, I knew that she was an actress from England and that she was married to my mother's TV crush, Family Feuds, Richard Dawson and that was pretty much it. While reading up on Diana i read many post and sites that stated that she wasn't much of an actress, and i have to completely disagree with them, she was a great actress that never really got to shine. Only having done a handful of film in America she continued to make some classic films 
in England. I love her music too and imagine my delight when I saw that Itunes carries some of her music. Adore it! So as I re-discover her films and music I hope you do as well.
She was the United Kingdoms first Bombshell, a hybrid of Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and a touch of Mamie Van Doreen...and I love all three ladies.

I am adding the selected films of hers that I have seen, there are so many so check them out...
1951~ Lady Godiva Rides Agian
1957~ The Unholy Wife 
1958~Tread Softly Stranger
1958 ~ I Married A Woman
1966~ The Sandwich Man
1967~ Berserk!
1970 ~ There's A girl In My Soup
1971~ Hannie Caulder

Watch This Un-aired Episode of Alfred Hitchcock Hour
starring Diana Dors, never aired due to being way to gruesome for the time era on TV.

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