Dors in I Married a Woman trailer, 1958
Diana Mary Fluck
23 October 1931
|Died||4 May 1984 (aged 52)|
Windsor, Berkshire, England
|Resting place||Sunningdale Catholic Cemetery|
|Residence||Orchard Manor, Sunningdale, Berkshire, England|
|Other names||Diana d'Ors|
|Education||Colville House, Swindon|
|Alma mater||London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art|
|Children||3, including Mark Dawson|
Diana Dors (born Diana Mary Fluck; 23 October 1931 - 4 May 1984) was an English film actress and singer. She first came to public notice as a blonde bombshell in the style of American Marilyn Monroe, as promoted by her first husband, Dennis Hamilton, mostly via sex film-comedies and risqué modelling. After it turned out that Hamilton had been defrauding her, she continued to play up to her established image, and she made tabloid headlines with the parties reportedly held at her house. Later, she showed a genuine talent for TV, recordings, and cabaret, and gained new popularity as a regular chat-show guest.
According to David Thomson, "Dors represented that period between the end of the war and the coming of Lady Chatterley in paperback, a time when sexuality was naughty, repressed and fit to burst." 
Diana Mary Fluck was born in Swindon, Wiltshire, on 23 October 1931 at the Haven Nursing Home. Her mother Winifred Maud Mary (Payne) was married to Albert Edward Sidney Fluck. Mary had been having an affair with another man, and when she announced she was pregnant with Diana, she admitted she had no clear idea if he or her husband was the father.
Having excelled in her elocution studies, after lying about her age, at 14 she was offered a place to study at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), becoming the college's youngest 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.
Having acted in public theatre pieces for LAMDA productions, Dors made her screen debut in the noir film The Shop at Sly Corner (1947) being cast in a walk-on role that developed into a speaking part: her pay rate was £8 per day for three days.
During the signing of contracts, in agreement with her father, she changed her contractual surname to Dors, the maiden name of her maternal grandmother; this was at the 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 for Holiday Camp (1947) by dancing a jitterbug with actor John Blythe. Gainsborough Studios gave her the part at a pay rate of £10 per day for four days.
Following her return to LAMDA, 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.
At the age of 16, she signed a contract with the Rank Organisation, and joined J. Arthur Rank's "Charm School" for young actors, subsequently appearing in many of their films. She received a great deal of publicity in part because of her willingness to be photographed in glamour shots and attending premieres. An August 1947 article said her nickname was "The Body".
In August 1948 Rank announced Dors would be one of its young players that they would be "building up" into stars. (The others included David Tomlinson, Susan Shaw, Patricia Plunkett, Sally Ann Howes and Derek Bond.)
After a bit in My Sister and I (1948), Dors was given a showy comic support part in Here Come the Huggetts (1948), a series that followed Holiday Camp. She was so well received that she returned for Vote for Huggett (1949).
Rank promoted Dors to leading roles in 1949's Diamond City, a commercially unsuccessful story of a boom town in South Africa in 1870. Dors played a saloon owner. Better received was Dance Hall (1950), where Dors was one of the four female leads.
After an appearance with Barbara Murray in The Cat and the Canary at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing, Dors 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 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 has uncredited appearances by Joan Collins, and a four-months pregnant Ruth Ellis. (Dors described herself as "the only sex symbol Britain has produced since Lady Godiva".) The couple married five weeks later at Caxton Hall on Monday, 3 July 1951.
Dors often played characters suffering from unrequited love, and by the mid-1950s, she 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 the age of 20, she was the youngest registered keeper of a Rolls-Royce in the UK.
Hamilton went to great lengths to advance Dors' career and his income or influence from it. After her death, friends and biographers said that Hamilton would lend Dors as a sexual favour to hiring producers and leading actors, much as in the "casting couch" practices of Hollywood.
In 1954, Hamilton had the idea of exploiting the newly 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 pictures were issued as a set called "Diana Dors 3D: the ultimate British Sex Symbol", which was sold together with a pair of 3D glasses; the full-nude test shot photographs became part of Roye's booklet London Models (1954).
Dors starred in a British film noir The Last Page (1952), directed by Terence Fisher for Hammer Films and association with producer Robert L. Lippert. Lippert offered her a one-picture deal on condition she divorced Hamilton. Dors refused.
She gained a second offer from Burt Lancaster for a lead role in his His Majesty O'Keefe (1954), but this time Hamilton turned down the part on her behalf before she even knew of the offer. The result was that her early career was restricted to mainly British films.
In 1952 she appeared in three flop productions on stage: Life with Lyons, Rendesvous and Remains to be Seen. However until Hamilton's guidance she received enormous publicity.
Dors returned to comedy, playing support roles in My Wife's Lodger (1952) and The Great Game (1953). She was the lead in the comic Is Your Honeymoon Really Necessary? (1953) and had a support part in The Saint's Return (1954).
After another comedy, It's a Grand Life (1953) with Frank Randle, Dors had an excellent support part in a prison drama, The Weak and the Wicked (1954), directed by J. Lee Thompson and a big hit in Britain. She did "The Lovely Place" for Rheingold Theatre on TV.
That year she was also in the comedies Miss Tulip Stays the Night (1955), Value for Money (1955) and An Alligator Named Daisy (1955), the last directed by Thompson. British exhibitors voted her the ninth-most popular British star at the box office in 1955.
Dors' performance attracted interest in Hollywood. In May 1956 Dors signed a contract with RKO to support George Gobel in I Married a Woman. She left Southampton on board the Queen Elizabeth for New York City and then to Hollywood. 
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 Day, Eddie Fisher, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Liberace, 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 from the pool and hit the first photographer before he could be restrained. The 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.
She stayed in crime for Tread Softly Stranger (1958).
Dors' RKO films flopped and RKO elected not to make the other two films. In December 1958 RKO terminated its contract with Dors alleging she "has become an object of disgrace, obloquy, ill will and ridicule." Dors sued the studio for $1,250,000 in damages. She later settled for $200,000.
Dors played an American in the French-Italian The Love Specialist (1958) and was a prostitute in Passport to Shame (1958). Joseph Kaufman announced he wanted to make a film starring her called Stopover but it was never made. In May 1959 she said she wanted to retire from acting and focus on her other interests, including a shampoo factory.
In February 1957 while filming The Long Haul, Dors started a relationship with co-star Victor Mature's stuntman, Tommy Yeardye. Details about the affair were reportedly leaked to the press by Yeardye. Hamilton discovered the relationship, and another period of separation began that led to divorce proceedings.
Following her final separation from Hamilton in 1958, Dors discovered that her company Diana Dors Ltd was in serious debt. Hamilton had steered the company toward the dual purpose of publicising his wife and helping himself, overpaying tax bills and establishing financial stability.
Having been forced by Hamilton to sign over all of her assets on their separation, and in need of money to pay her divorce lawyers and their accountants, she agreed to the suggestion of agent Joseph Collins to undertake a theatre-based cabaret tour titled "The Diana Dors Show".
Yeardye suggested that they hire the comedian Dickie Dawson, later known as Richard Dawson. Dawson subsequently scripted the show and wrote most of the material. Dors started a relationship with Dawson and 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 Inland Revenue investigation of her cash holdings. In 1959, Hamilton died, and Dors married Dawson in New York while making an appearance on The Steve Allen Show. "The Diana Dors Show" was commissioned for two studio-based series on television at ITV.
She appeared in some American films: On the Double (1961), a Danny Kaye comedy, and The Big Bankroll (1962), a crime film also known as King of the Roaring 20's: The Story of Arnold Rothstein. She also sold her memoirs to News of the World for $140,000. She later claimed she turned down a role in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
During the summer of 1961, Dors shot "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", based on Robert Bloch's story, for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The episode was so gruesome that it was suppressed for decades. Dors also starred in a 1963 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour titled "Run for Doom", co-starring John Gavin, and an episode of Straightaway.
Dors returned to Britain. In 1961 she narrowly escaped death at a Guy Fawkes Night party in Wraysbury where fireworks were accidentally ignited indoors. The house was destroyed, three people died in the fire and another one had a fatal heart attack, and Dors was slightly injured while escaping through a window.
Dors divorced Dawson in 1966 and returned to the UK, leaving behind her two sons. She resumed cabaret work, and subsequently was served with a writ of bankruptcy. As her popularity had fallen, this time she was touring working men's clubs.
Dors' film career was now strictly supporting roles: Danger Route (1967); Berserk! (1967), with Joan Crawford; Hammerhead (1968); Baby Love (1968); Deep End (1970); and There's a Girl in My Soup (1970). She returned to the West End in 1970 in Three Months Gone.
Dors' film work included Hannie Caulder (1971); The Pied Piper (1972); The Amazing Mr. Blunden (1972); Swedish Wildcats (1972); Nothing but the Night (1972); Theatre of Blood (1973); Steptoe and Son Ride Again (1973); From Beyond the Grave (1973); and Craze (1974). 
In the mid-1970s, she became in high demand for sex comedies: The Amorous Milkman (1975), A Man with a Maid (1975), Bedtime with Rosie (1975), What the Swedish Butler Saw (1975), Three for All (1976), Adventures of a Taxi Driver (1976), Keep It Up Downstairs (1976), Adventures of a Private Eye (1977) and Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair (1979).
She was in episodes of Just William, The Sweeney, Hammer House of Horror, and Shoestring. In 1977 she won a court battle to prevent Wolf Rilla from writing a biography based on interviews she had done with Rilla.
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 Wild, Blankety Blank and Celebrity Squares, and was a regular guest on BBC Radio 2's The Law Game. She also had a recurring role in The Two Ronnies in 1980. A popular chat-show guest, an entire show - Russell Harty: At Home with Dors - came from 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 interviews and leaked tabloid stories, like many celebrities in their later careers, she turned to the autobiography to generate retirement cash. In 1960 she wrote and published Swingin' Dors and between 1978 and 1984, she published four autobiographical books under her own name: For Adults Only, Behind Closed Dors, Dors by Diana, and A. to Z. of Men.
Diana Dors was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions, in April 1957 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre, and in October 1982, when Andrews surprised her at London's Royalty Theatre.
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 videocassette. This resulted in her working for TV-am, ITV's breakfast station, in the summer of 1983, in a regular slot focusing on diet and nutrition, which later developed into an agony aunt segment. As the cancer treatment took its toll again, though, her appearances became less frequent. She sued the show for withholding her fan mail.
Her last public appearance was in cabaret at Harpoon Louie's, Earls Court, West London, on 15 April 1984 where she looked considerably frail but stood throughout her whole set. Her final (posthumous) film appearance was in Steaming (1985).
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The earliest recordings of Dors were two sides of a 78-rpm single released on HMV Records in 1953. The tracks were "I Feel So Mmmm" and "A Kiss and a Cuddle (and a Few Kind 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, the swing-themed Swingin' Dors, in 1960. The LP was originally released on red vinyl and with a gatefold sleeve. The accompanying orchestra was conducted by Wally Stott.
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 and recorded singles on various record labels from the 1960s through the early 1980s, including a single for the Nomis label, "Where Did They Go?" / "It's You Again" (the latter being a duet with her son, Gary Dawson), while she was battling cancer. While promoting the single on TV, Dors claimed "Where Did They Go?" had been especially written for her, but in fact, the track had been recorded originally by Peggy Lee in 1971 and in 1972 by Sandie Shaw.
|Recorded||Album Title||Label||Catalogue No.||Format||Notes|
|1955||As Long as They're Happy||HMV||DLPC 1||10" LP||Soundtrack (She performed "The Hokey Pokey Polka")|
|1960||Swinging Dors||Pye Records||NPL 18044||LP||Solo LP|
|1968||Thoroughly Modern Millie||World Record Club||T-849||LP||Soundtrack (She performed "Do It Again" and "Jazz Baby")|
|Doctor Doolittle||T-850||LP||Soundtrack (She performed "At The Crossroads", "Beautiful Things", "Fabulous Places" and "I Think I Like You")|
|Recorded||Album Title||Label||Catalogue No.||Release|
|1953||"I Feel So Mmm......" / "A Kiss and a Cuddle (And a Few Kind Words from You)"||HMV Records||B-10613||78 rpm|
|1960||"April Heart" / "Point of No Return"||Pye Records||7N.15242||45 rpm|
|1966||"So Little Time" / "It's Too Late"||Fontana Records||TF 506|
|"Security" / "Garry"||Polydor Records||56111|
|1977||"Passing By" / "It's a Small World"||EMI Records||EMI 2705|
|1981||"Where Did They Go" / "It's You Again" (with Gary Dors)||Nomis Records||NOM 1|
|1963||"Just One of Those Things" / "How Long Has This Been Going On"||Performed on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour as character Nickie Carole|
Dors was married three times:
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 Summers chain, which he named after his cousin/secretary. During the short relationship, Dors became 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.
It is said that Dors became a close friend of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain, after Ellis had a bit part in Lady Godiva Rides Again, four years before she was executed by Albert Pierrepoint, having admitted to and been found guilty of shooting her lover. However Diana never mentioned having known Ruth either in interviews or in her memoirs. Through her husband Hamilton, Dors was close friends with the notorious Kray twins and their mother Violet.
During her relationship with Hamilton and until a few months before her death, Dors regularly held adult parties at her home. There, a number of celebrities, amply supplied with alcohol and drugs, mixed with young starlets against a background of both softcore and hardcore porn films. Dors gave all her guests full access to the entire house; her son Jason Lake later alleged in various media interviews and publications that she had equipped it with 8 mm movie cameras. The young starlets were made aware of the arrangements and were allowed to attend for free in return for making sure that their celebrity partners performed in bed at the right camera angles. Dors later enjoyed watching the films, keeping an archive of the best performances.
Dors became an early subject of the "celebrity exposé" tabloids, appearing regularly in the News of the World. In large part, she brought this notoriety upon herself. In desperate need of cash after her separation from Hamilton in 1958, she gave an interview in which she described their lives and the adult group parties in full, frank detail. The interview was serialised in the tabloid for 12 weeks, followed by an extended six-week series of sensational stories, creating negative publicity. Subsequently, the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher denounced Dors as a "wayward hussy".
Television news and film companies with more general interests, partly because of her popularity and partly because of who was attending the parties, were unwilling to repeat the stories until well after Dors' death. Her former lover and party guest Bob Monkhouse later commented in an interview after Dors' death, "The awkward part about an orgy, is that afterwards you're not too sure who to thank."
Towards the end of her life Dors had meningitis and twice underwent surgery to remove cancerous tumors. She collapsed at her home near Windsor with acute stomach pains and died on 4 May 1984, aged 52, at the BMI Princess Margaret Hospital in Windsor from a recurrence of ovarian cancer, first diagnosed two years before.
She had converted to Catholicism in early 1973; hence, her funeral service was held 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 burned all of Dors' remaining clothes and fell into a depression. On 10 October 1984, Lake did a telephone interview with Daily Express journalist Jean Rook and then he walked into their son's bedroom and took his own life by firing a shotgun into his mouth. He was 43. This was five months after her death from cancer, and 16 years to the day since they had first met.
Her home for the previous 20 years, Orchard Manor, was sold by the solicitors. The house's contents were bulk-sold by Sotheby's, which sold her jewellery collection in an auction. After solicitors' bills, outstanding tax payments, death duties, and other distributions, the combined estates of Dors and Lake left little for the upkeep of their son Jason (aged 14), who was subsequently made a ward of court to his half-brother Gary Dawson in Los Angeles.
In September 2019, Jason Dors Lake, the son of Diana Dors and Alan Lake, was reported to have died several days after his 50th birthday.
As well as appearing as Adam Ant's fairy godmother in his music video "Prince Charming", Dors was also included in the Adam and the Ants song "Scorpios" with lyrics 'Black's the colour watch the claws, With nails as sharp as Diana Dors'.
Dors claimed to have hidden away more than £2 million in banks across Europe. In 1982, she gave her son Mark Dawson a sheet of paper on which, she told him, was a code that would reveal the whereabouts of the money. His stepfather Alan Lake supposedly knew the key that would crack the code, but he committed suicide soon after her death and Dawson was left with an apparently unsolvable puzzle.
He sought out computer forensic specialists Inforenz, who recognised the encryption as the Vigenère cipher. Inforenz then used their own cryptanalysis software to suggest a 10-letter decryption key, DMARYFLUCK (short for Diana Mary Fluck, Dors's real name). With the aid of a bank statement found among Alan Lake's papers, Inforenz was then able to decode the existing material to reveal a list of surnames and towns only – suggesting that there must be a second page that would reveal first names and bank details, to complete the message. As this has never come to light, no money has ever been traced. In 2003, Channel 4 made a television programme about the mystery.
|1961||Straightaway, episode: "The Sportscar Breed"|
|1962||Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"||Irene Sadini|
|1963||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: "Run For Doom"||Nickie Carole|
|1970-72||Queenie's Castle||Queenie Shepherd|
|1973||All Our Saturdays||Di Dorkins|
|1973||Thriller: "Nurse Will Make It Better"||Bessie|
|1977-78||Just William||Mrs Bott|
|1978||The Sweeney, episode: "Messenger of the Gods"||Lily Rix|
|1980||Hammer House of Horror: "Children of the full moon"|
|1980||Shoestring (TV series): "Looking for Mr Wright"||Maggie|
|1980||The Two Ronnies: "The Worm That Turned"||The Commander|
|1981||BBC Television Shakespeare: "Timon of Athens"||Timandra|
|1981||Music video: Adam and the Ants, "Prince Charming"||Fairy Godmother|