Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rule 5 Sunday – Belinda Lee, Voluptuous Temptress of British and Italian Films of 1950s



Belinda Lee (15 June 1935 – 12 March 1961) was an English actress.

Born in Budleigh Salterton, Devon, Lee was signed to a film contract in 1954 by the Rank Studios after being seen performing as a student of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Often cast in demure roles in her early career, she was able to demonstrate her dramatic abilities, however she found more constant employment when she began to play "sexpot" roles. Typecast as one of several "sexy blondes" she was often compared, unfavourably, to the popular Diana Dors. Typical of these roles was a supporting part in the Benny Hill film Who Done It? (1956).[1]

Married to the photographer Cornel Lucas [2] from 1954 until 1959, it was after their divorce that Lee moved to Italy, where she continued playing voluptuous temptresses in Italian films, yet also found the occasion of credible dramatic performances in Francesco Rosi's immigration drama I Magliari (1959) and Florestano Vancini's intense war story La lunga notte del '43 (1960).[1]

British exhibitors voted her the 10th most popular British film star at the box office in 1957.[3]

In 1958, Italian newspapers reported that Miss Lee had taken an overdose of sleeping pills. Three days later, papal prince Filippo Orsini, who had been linked to her by the papers, was reported to have been hospitalised after slashing his wrists. Police refused to comment on the newspaper reports linking the two romantically. Orsini, whose injuries were light, refused to tell the police why he had done it. Lee said that she had been suffering from insomnia and had taken an overdose by mistake. Both were married to others at the time. The Vatican said that Orsini would lose his title if it were proven that he had attempted suicide.[4]

In 1961, Belinda Lee died in a car accident near San Bernardino, California, on her way to Los Angeles from Las Vegas, where she had been acting in a film. Her ashes are kept at Campo Cestio Cemetery (Cimitero acattolico) in Rome, Italy.[5]

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