Diana Dors 1931 A magisterial exemplar of the Persephone/Pluto myth. Diana was born black in the face, thrown aside for dead as doctors battled to save her mother, and was revived by a nurse in another room. The result of this near-suffocation as she fought for survival was life long claustrophobia….. She suffered through a kitchen-table abortion at the age of 18. While the father of the fetus was in jail she engaged herself to another man whom she almost immediately married. She became pregnant again and had another abortion at the age of 19. Her husband, a photographer, published her nudes in a book called “Diana Dors in 3D” which came with a pair of red and green spectacles for viewing. Her 1951 film, " Lady Godiva Rides Again, was temporarily banned by the American Board of Film Censors. Her three movie deal with RKO ended after they cancelled the contract on a moral clause.
Dors’s life, both professional and personal, was made accessible to the British public warts and all by the publicity machine controlled by a succession of pimping husbands. Her trust in men who took advantage of her was well documented One of her husbands forced her at gunpoint to sign over the majority of her assets to him. He died from tertiary syphilis and left her nothing but thousands of pounds in debts. Another, having the key to a Harrods’ safety deposit box in which she had deposited a large amount of cash, helped himself. The story alerted the tax man to the fact Diana was storing vast sums of cash. Diana was then pursued by another man wanting money from her - the tax man - and not for the first or last time. She sailed through it all, triumphantly poised and ever popular with the sympathetic British public.
After her death, from ovarian cancer, her surviving husband burned her wardrobe in the backyard. Five months later he shot himself in their 14 year-old son's bedroom.
(adapted from http://www.dianadors.co.uk/index.html)
Also born on this day in 1844 SARAH BERNHARDT: The great tragedienne and seductress, known for her reckless affairs and morbid flamboyance. For instance, sleeping in a coffin. As a toddler she fell into a fire and was “thrown, all smoking, into a large pail of fresh milk”. As a child, on a histrionic impulse, she flung herself in front of her aunt’s carriage and broke her arm in two places. She beat her classmates and cried herself into life-threatening fevers. She assembled a little zoo of lizards, crickets, and spiders, which she gleefully fed with flies. Later she married an abusive man who was one of the models for Dracula in the novel by Bram Stoker (b. Nov. 8, 1847).
Also born on this day, the French pornographer Restif de la Breton in 1734: writer who haunted the mysterious underworld of prostitution in pre-revolutionary France. Nicolas Edmonde Rétif wrote 44 books published in 187 volumes. His 1775 work "Le Paysan perverti" was a breakout popular success. The author strolled nightly through Paris to watch people. The main objects of his attention were the lower classes, their sexual lives and above all, women’s feet. He maintained an incestuous relationship with one of his daughter for many years.