For overseas readers and the young everywhere, Diana Dors was a British actress and a sort of British Marilyn Monroe. Her real name was - erm - Diana Fluck. The dangers posed by a missed consonant - and the kind of mistake made by a vicar introducing her when she came to open a fête as 'ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the very lovely Miss Diana Clunt' led to a rapid change of name.
But I digress. This is mostly the story of her first marriage to a man named Dennis Hamilton who she married in 1951 aged 19. It makes for an interesting story. As parental permission was then needed fro the under 21s to marry and her parents were understandably unenthusiastic about their daughter marrying a major criminal - for such Hamilton was, Dors forged their signatures on the permission document. She already had something of a track record as a wild child having spent £5,000 on a Delahaye Roadster 175S despite being 17 at the time and not having a driving licence. The car was sold at auction in 2010 for $3 million. Other youthful episodes featured being thrown out of a flat in Chelsea following complaints about loud noise and endless parties and a pregnancy resulting in a £10 abortion on a Battersea kitchen table. The marriage was at Caxton Hall in Central London, then a fashionable place for civil ceremonies. The registrar had a tip off about the dodgy state of the relevant paperwork and raised the topic with Hamilton.
Hamilton shook the registrar warmly by the throat and announced 'you’ll marry us, all right, or I’ll knock your fucking teeth down your throat'.
The registrar complied. The happy couple had met 5 weeks previously
Apparently Diana Dors could act but struggled for good parts, partly due to the notoriety of her associations and lifestyle. Hamilton introduced her to sex parties where she met the young Bob Monkhouse (British 'comedian' - only good line - 'They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian. They're not laughing now').
Very true that. Dors later had an affair with Monkhouse which lead to Hamilton threatening him with a cut-throat razor and the immortal line 'I’m going to slit your eyeballs!'
As one does.
Dors later went to Hollywood where a very public affair with Rod Steiger and Hamilton beating a photographer senseless didn't advance her career. RKO, who had brought her over to Hollywood, were soon looking for a reason to fire her. Apparently, though, a Sheikh was so taken with her that he offered Hamilton 23 camels for her. She seperated from Hamilton in 1956 after he started an affair and planned to marry an obscure actor named Tommy Yeardye after divorcing him. Returning to England, Dors' contract with Rank was cancelled by mutual consent. Yeardye contrived to get himself arrested following an altercation with a policeman and Dors fell for a young comedian called Richard Dawson. She asked Yeardye to leave and accused him of having stolen £18,000.
Dors and Hamilton were divorced in 1958 and Hamilton died of a heart attack in 1959. She married Dawson in the same year, had two sons with him and more affairs (it gets a bit hard to keep up with the affairs) and they divorced in 1966 or 1967. She was later made bankrupt but entered into her third and final marriage to actor Alan Lake in 1968 at Caxton Hall (again!). Lake, an alcoholic, went to jail for his part in a pub brawl. She had one live and one stillborn son with Lake. They both converted to Roman Catholicism in 1971.
The end of her story is that Diana Dors was diagnosed with cancer in 1982 and died of cancer in 1984 aged 52. Six months later Lake committed suicide with a shotgun, sixteen years to the day he met her. He is buried next to her.
There is a biopic of her dating from 1999 called The Blonde Bombshell. There is no point in being censorious about her car crash of a life. Her story is mostly a sad one, a headstrong young woman with too much money and too little guidance. She didn't wear well but the first photo does show a pretty young woman, already in the clutches of an older - and downright evil - man. She appears on the cover of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. See if you can spot her - it's not too hard. Hat Tip to the rather wonderful Another Nickel in the Machine (link to left) for black and white pics and some of the narrative.