How Did ‘British Marylin Monroe’ Diana Dors End Up in Crippling Debt?

“Sleazy.” “Blowsy”. “Her only point of comparison with Marylin Monroe was that they each added peroxide to their shampoo”.

That’s how small-minded critics (like this one, who also infamously published an article about Dusty Springfield claiming, “my theory is that you can always spot a lesbian by her big thrusting chin”… just in case you needed any further proof of his small-mindedness) have described Diana Dors.

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But Diana, the self-professed “British Marilyn Monroe” was more than those unimaginative, petty adjectives. Rather, she was a complex, flawed but fiercely unapologetic woman who held her own in the face of the manipulative men she trusted.

Read on to learn more about Diana Dors, Britain’s misunderstood sex symbol of the 1950s.

A ‘British Marilyn Monroe’ is Born

Diana Dors was born Diana Mary Fluck in Swindon, Wiltshire, England in 1931. From a young age, Diana knew that she was born to be an actress. At age eight, she promised her classmates, “when I grow up I am going to be a film star and live in a big house with a swimming pool and a cream telephone”.

After turning 14, Diana began studying acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).

The following year, Diana enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) to study acting. At age 16, the young actress landed uncredited roles in her first three Hollywood films,  Code of Scotland Yard, Dancing with Crime, and Holiday Camp in 1947. The following year, she was cast in her first major role as Charlotte in Oliver Twist.

From then on, Diana’s talent and beauty began to earn her roles as sexy sirens. Through the 50s, 60’s, and ’70s, her sultry characters enchanted unsuspecting men in films like Here Come the Huggetts, Dance Hall, Lady Godiva, As Long as They’re Happy, A Kid for Two Farthings, Value for Money, An Alligator Named Daisy, Yield to the Night, The Long Haul, The Unholy Wife, I Married a Woman, Tread Softly Stranger, On the Double, Hannie Caulder, The Amazing Mr. Blunden, From Beyond the Grave, Craze, The Amorous Milkman, Adventures of a Taxi Driver, Keep It Up Downstairs, Adventures of a Private Eye, and Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair… and the list goes on.

Ever the versatile actress, Diana also appeared in a few TV series — including Straightaway, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Burke’s Law, Armchair Theater, and Queenie’s Castle — and a video short called Adam and the Ants: Prince Charming.

Diana Dors’ Marries Dennis Hamilton

Behind her success, however, Diana’s personal life was characterized by financial strife and scandal. Diana married Dennis Hamilton in 1951 within weeks of meeting him. Dennis took control of her business affairs and finances, turning down certain roles in favor of sexed-up ones that would earn the most money.

Even after the two separated, Denis maintained his stranglehold on Diana’s money, purchasing property, cars, and a boat without her permission. When Dennis passed away suddenly before they were able to divorce, Diana was left with his debts.

Diana Marries Richard Dawson

After marrying her second husband, American-actor Richard ‘Dickie’ Dawson, Diana worked hard to keep her family afloat. As with her previous marriage, the blonde bombshell gave her new husband control of her business affairs. Unfortunately — also like her previous husband –Richard neglected to keep on top of Diana’s finances.

When the two divorced and Diana returned to London, she discovered she owed a crippling amount of taxes to the British government. As such, she was forced to allow her two sons — Gary and Mark Dawson — to stay in the custody of her husband to avoid the reach of the British taxman. 

Diana Marries Alan Lake

“At least no one can say I’m marrying her for her money,” actor Alan Lake famously joked after marrying her third and final husband. Having learned her lesson from her previous marriages, Diana maintained control of her career and business affairs in an attempt to get her finances back on track.

Diana passed away in 1984 in Windsor, Berkshire, England. Legend has it that she hid cash in secret bank accounts, but died before their whereabouts could be discovered by her greedy male survivors.

You go girl, say we.

What do you think?

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