The star 2


Early Years : War Years : Rising Star : The Star

The Star (continued)

With the salary she was now in receipt of from her contract with Rank, Diana decided it was time to move out of the YWCA and started to look for a flat. She found an apartment just off the Kings Road in Chelsea, consisting of a living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. It cost £5 per week and for Diana it was heaven.

Diana’s relationship with Gil had cooled, Diana was broken hearted. She had remained friends with Anthony, and when he had said he was in love with her, Gil was very quickly forgotten. Her new flat became a meeting place for out of work actors, and always with something more on offer than just tea and coffee, it became a great escape for them all.

Diana now got her biggest break. She was offered the lead role in the film Diamond City, a story of a boom town in South Africa in 1870. It marked a turning point in her career. She was no longer the starlette but now a true star, and because of her personality, her acting ability and her sheer determination, she shone bright. With Diamond City now finished and in production, Diana, and Rank keen not to see her resting, was sent off to Worthing to appear with Barbara Murray in The Cat and the Canary at the Connaught Theatre. Mary Fluck accompanied Diana and they both enjoyed a couple of weeks at the seaside in each others company.

Film still from Diamond City 1949
Diamond City 1949

 On Diana’s return to London, a young man she had had a fling with, Michael Caborn-Waterfield, the son of the Count Del-Colnaghi, had, after losing what little money he had in a business venture, moved in with Diana. Diana continued to work, now on a south coast tour of Lisette, a musical comedy. During rehearsals Diana discovered she was pregnant. Diana’s 18th birthday was a memorable one, on her return to London and Michael, and being sick all the way, they found somewhere where the pregnancy could be terminated. But how could they afford the exorbitant fee of £10? Michael borrowing on the strength of his inheritance he would receive, paid for the operation, which was performed on a kitchen table in Battersea. For Diana the whole episode was a nightmare, it took many months before she recovered physically.

Diana was wild with excitement as she stood in Piccadilly Circus seeing her name in flickering lights for the release of Diamond City.

The Rank studios contracted her out to Elstree Studios, where Dance Hall had been filmed. Spring saw her appearing in the play Man of the World, which opened at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Diana received rave notices for her part as the pyjama-top clad young mistress and she was presented with the Actress of the Year Award by Theatre World magazine. Also in the cast was a young actor by the name of Lionel Jeffries.

That summer, after the play closed, saw little work for Diana, apart from a week spell in a play called Born Yesterday. Diana was not too worried. She and Michael and a number of other out of work actors spent their time sunbathing and swimming. It came as a great shock to them all when Rank announced that the ‘Charm School’ was to close. The rank organisation was in debt to the tune of 18 million and Diana was being made redundant! Only a small part in the film Worms Eye View softened the blow of loosing her financial cushion from Rank, and the thought that Michael would soon be 21 and would receive his inheritance. With the rent in arrears, post dated cheques written and no money, the day arrived for Michael to receive his inheritance. He received the sum of £50, the Del-Colnaghi business had floundered! But worst of all Diamond City had not done very well and as a result, Diana’s dreams of Hollywood now seemed unreachable.

< Previous | Next >