The star 3


Early Years : War Years : Rising Star : The Star

The Star (continued)

One afternoon in may 1951, during a break from filming Lady Godiva Rides Again, she met Dennis Hamilton. He had asked her for a light and his dazzling smile and good looks had instantly melted her. Never before had anyone treated her like a lady, the bouquets of flowers that arrived almost daily overwhelmed her.

Whilst Michael was serving a two week jail sentence for another of his shady business deals, Dennis made his move on Diana and asked her to marry him. They were engaged at the end of June and on Monday 3 July 1951, just five weeks after they had first met, Diana and Dennis married at Caxton Hall. Dennis had tipped off the press and the ceremony had not gone smoothly. By all accounts Michael had tipped of the registrar that Diana’s parents signature was forged, in the hope that it would stop the ceremony. It almost did. Dennis forced the issue by pinning the registrar to his office wall and threatening to knock his teeth out if he did not marry them.

Film still Lady Godiva Rides Again 1951
Lady Godiva Rides Again 1951

Diana was 19, they were both broke and in debt, and their wedding guests had all paid for their own meals in a small Italian restaurant to celebrate the happy couple. Even the wedding ring he had bought with a couple of pounds borrowed from a friend. The only thing they had in the world was each other.

Diana and her husband Dennis Hamilton
Diana and Dennis Hamilton

She settled down to married life with a man she hardly knew and did not understand. All she did know was that a frothy raging current of events was sweeping her along.

Diana and Dennis moved into a swish house in Knightsbridge. It was Diana who was worried how they were going to pay for it. She had landed a part in the film, The Last Page, with American actor George Brent. The weeks went by and with no further work the inevitable happened, the creditors arrived, it was time to move house. They moved to a cheaper house in Surrey. Diana felt in isolation in the country and they lived off credit from the village shop.

In October, Lady Godiva Rides Again was released to good reviews. It was a light hearted romp that made fun of the beauty queen business, and the critics agreed it was good fun. The American Board of Film Censors had banned the film beacuse Diana was showing her navel. Not thought of as proper in the USA, and Diana found herself in the papers. The fuss attracted the attention of Robert Lippert, who had worked with Diana on The Last Page. He wanted to turn Diana into a sex-symbol, just as he had done with Shelley Winters. There was one snag, he wanted Diana to be single and suggested that she divorce Dennis and re-marry him later! When news finally filtered through from America, he was now looking at someone else. Diana was devastated, but Dennis relieved, turned it to their advantage and issued a press release declaring that Diana had turned down an American contract of £400 per week to stay in the country Diana loved. The press lapped it up, and the Diana publicity machine had started to turn its cogs.

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