Do blondes have more fun? Did 1950s bombshells have platinum curls, voluptuous curves, endless lashes and flirty dresses? Case closed! But while many of us now consider Marilyn Monroe the archetype of that very glamorous decade, all-American, windswept and pouty in that white dress, another blonde sex kitten was making waves on this side of the water. There’s a definite likeness, yes, but there’s a completely different story. And it deserves to be told. Step forward Diana Dors…Martha Hayes has the story.

Born Diana Mary Fluck in 1931, the headstrong film and TV star knew exactly what she wanted from an early age – her name up in lights. Seeing her first film aged three ignited a passion and determination to make it.

She took dance classes, emulated the actresses she saw on the silver screen and fell head over heels for Hollywood by the age of 12 when American troops came over and she performed for them during the Second World War.

Having won her first beauty pageant, and having convinced her parents she could turn her acting dream into a reality, the brown-haired kid from Swindon (who looked much older than she was!) enrolled at LAMDA (the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) in 1946. At 14, she was the youngest student they’d ever had. She dyed her hair blonde and changed her name to her grandmother’s maiden name, Dors.

‘They asked me to change my name,’ she once said. ‘I suppose they were afraid that if my real name, Diana Fluck, was in lights, and one of the lights blew…’

She was on her way. Following a handful of small roles including crime thriller Shop At Sly Corner and Holiday Camp, Ms Dors signed up to the J. Arthur Rank Organisation, a school established to recruit young actors. She went on to more notably, star in Here Come The Nuggets with Jack Warner in 1948 and play Charlotte in David Lean’s Oliver Twist in the same year.

Aged 18, entering the fabulous 1950s, Diana emerged as Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe with an unmistakable sex symbol role in 1951’s Lady Godiva Rides Again. She courted the press, posed provocatively in low-cut gowns and even once punted down a canal in Venice wearing only a mink bikini…

Now a regular on the British film circuit, her success at this point can be measured by the fact that, at 20 she was the youngest registered owner of a Rolls Royce in the UK !

As a result of her blonde bombshell tag and fluffy, often comical roles, it is widely viewed Diana’s acting ability was not fully realised, although a role in Yield To The Night in 1956 enabled her to showcase her serious talent.

Although the film roles began to dry up in the 1960s, Diana’s celebrity was such that she was immortalised, in a typically glamorous gold dress and white gloves, on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band in 1967.

In the 1970s, having enjoyed a film career that spanned three marriages and the birth of three sons, Diana shifted effortlessly into more mature roles for television such as ITV’s Queenie’s Castle (1970-2) and Just William (1977-8). She was given her own show, The Diana Dors Show and was well loved and admired just before her death from cancer in 1984, for her ‘slim-in’ with the ‘Dors Dozen’ as well as her agony aunt advice on TV-AM.

The wannabe child actress had achieved what she set out to, and more, and even before Marilyn Monroe. But with a name like Diana Dors, perhaps that was inevitable…

One Response

  1. lindsay

    diana dors was beautiful. i wonder why she never made it as big as the american blonde bombshells like marilyn monroe, jayne mansfield and mamie van doren or even other european glamour girls like brigitte bardot and sophia loren because she was certainly pretty enough and iv’e also heard that she could really act. it’s a shame that she was never really appreciated outside of britain.