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Loved by the likes of Laurence Olivier, Yul Brynner and Richard Burton, London-born actress Claire Bloom is a true style icon. Now aged 81, but still looking as stylish as ever, Bloom, who was married to both Hollywood legend Rod Steiger and British author Philip Roth, in addition to a long affair with Burton, is still remembered for her roles in classic Fifties and Sixties films. Nell Darby reports.

Bloom started her career with appearances on BBC radio programmes before progressing to the stage, appearing with both Richard Burton and John Gielgud in her 1947 London stage debut. In 1952, Bloom appeared in Chaplin’s film Limelight – a role that catapulted her to stardom at the age of 21. She then appeared in other Hollywood films, starring alongside actors such as Paul Newman and Laurence Harvey.

The role Bloom is chiefly remembered for now is her part in the 1958 kitchen sink drama Look Back In Anger. Based on the John Osborne play, the film tells the story of a disaffected market trader – played by Richard Burton – and his posh wife, Alison. Bloom played the role of Helena, a friend of Alison’s who has an affair with Burton’s character.

The young Bloom had dramatic looks; large, dark eyes, dark hair and high cheekbones. Even when playing characters in British realist dramas, she stood out; in Look Back In Anger, for example, she wears a simple turtle neck jumper, knee length skirt and court shoes, her only accessory a simple necklace – she looks both modern and elegant, with her clothes not detracting from her looks.

The character of Helena is an actress, which meant Bloom having to also dress in an over-the-top full-length gown; again, she wears few accessories, so that the emphasis is on her, not her clothes. Where she wears accessories, she picks one item as the focus – a string of pearls, or a long scarf – and keeps everything else simple.

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