|Height:||170 cm (5' 7'')|
|Birth Day:||June 15, 1935|
|Death Date:||12 March 1961(1961-03-12) (aged 25)
San Bernardino, California, US
|Birth Place:||Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England, United Kingdom|
|#1||Stella Mary Graham||Parents||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#2||Robert Esmond Lee||Parents||N/A||N/A||N/A|
As per our current Database, Belinda Lee died on 12 March 1961(1961-03-12) (aged 25)
San Bernardino, California, US.
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|170 cm (5' 7'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Lee went back to Italy to make Long Night in 1943 (1960), a critically acclaimed war drama, and had a cameo in Love, the Italian Way (1960), a comedy with Walter Chiari, shot in mid 1960. In May 1960 she said "all they wanted when I was filming in England were dewey-eyed little innocents and sexy big-bosomed blondes and I didn't think I fitted either bill."
Lee joined the Nottingham Playhouse repertory company for a year, then won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 1953 Lee made her stage debut in a production of Point of Departure.
While at RADA she was seen in a production of Lady Windermere's Fan and recommended to Val Guest who was looking for a girl to play in support of comedian Frankie Howerd in The Runaway Bus (1954). (Eric and Blanche Glass were the ones who spotted her, according to one account.) According to the New York Times she was the "seventy-seventh" girl to audition for the role and her casting was announced in September 1953. Lee played a dumb blonde and later said "I really was dumb too – didn't know where the camera was half the time."
Lee was cast as a lead in only her fourth film, Hammer Pictures' Murder by Proxy (1954), with Dane Clark, shot in late 1953, and released in the US by Lippert Pictures. She was in The Belles of St Trinian's (1954), a hugely popular comedy from Frank Launder, at British Lion.
For a time she shared a flat with Anna Kashfi. Guest arranged to have publicity photographs for The Runaway Bus taken by Rank's still photographer Cornel Lucas, who Lee would marry in June 1954.
In December 1954 Lee was cast as the second female lead in a thriller Footsteps in the Fog (1955), supporting Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons, directed by Arthur Lubin for Columbia.
In 1955 Lee signed a contract with the Rank Organisation – she was under 21 so her husband had to sign it. Rank put her in a comedy Man of the Moment (1955), with Norman Wisdom, the biggest comedy star in British cinema at the time. She then made No Smoking (1955), for Tempean Films, with Reg Dixon.
Rank cast Lee as a nurse in a medical drama The Feminine Touch (1956), produced through Ealing under the direction of Pat Jackson, shot in mid 1955. After a week at the Venice Film Festival she went straight in to a comedy, Who Done It? (1956), for Ealing, where she was the leading lady to Benny Hill. During the filming of this she said she would prefer to be in romantic parts like Footsteps in the Fog. These two films were among the last made at Ealing Studios.
Lee was a nurse again in a thriller with Donald Sinden, Eyewitness (1956), directed by Muriel Box for Rank. Lee replaced Diana Dors in The Big Money with Ian Carmichael, a film shot in April 1956 but which Sir John Davis of Rank disliked so much they delayed showing it for two years.
By June 1956 she had made nine films, six of which were for Rank. She said being a film star was "really 90 percent luck and only 10 percent ability" and accredited her success to "being at the right place at the right time."
In June 1956 she played Rosalind in a production of As You Like It in an open-air theatre at Regent's Park. The same month she said "I want people to think of me as a serious actress and not just a glamour girl... It's rather hard to go from the films to Shakespeare on stage – it is easier the other way around. I left myself wide open for criticism." Reviews for her performance were mixed, but she received some positive notices. The Spectator said "she combines eloquence of voice and gesture with a pleasantly un-leading-lady-like approach." The Telegraph said "I don't suppose there has ever been a more high speed Rosalind in the history of the play... her gaety and vitality are spontaneous and charming. But all the time she was in her boy's disguise I kept thinking what a good Peter Pan she would make." The Financial Times called her "brown as a nut, fresh as a daisy and pretty as a buttercup" saying she "made a spirited alfresco Rosalind even if a little too much on the cute side."
Lee was top billed in a crime drama The Secret Place (1957), directed by Clive Donner; she also had the female lead in Miracle in Soho (1957) with John Gregson, filmed in early 1957, and in the period drama Dangerous Exile (1957), opposite Louis Jourdan; during the filming of the latter she was injured when her hair caught fire. Miracle in Soho was a flop but British exhibitors voted her the 10th-most popular British film star at the box office in 1957 (ranked in front of her were Dirk Bogarde, Kenneth More, Peter Finch, John Gregson, Norman Wisdom, John Mills, Stanley Baker, Ian Carmichael and Jack Hawkins – Lee was the only woman on the list).
Towards the end of 1957 Lee went to Italy to play a model in the Ancient World in The Goddess of Love (1957). During the course of the shoot she had a highly publicised romance with a married noble, Prince Filippo Orsini, head of the Orsini family. This resulted in Lee leaving her husband Lucas in September. In October 1957 Lee told the press "I had a strict and very ladylike upbringing. When I went to Rome it was the first time I had been abroad on my own. It was marvelous. I even learned to swear."
In July 1958 she was announced for Love is My Business with Raymond Pelligin directed by Ralph Habib. It was never made but while still under contract to Rank, Lee went to France to play the female lead in This Desired Body (1959), a romantic melodrama. The Monthly Film Bulletin later said "Lee gives an uninhibited but sympathetic performance in a part she was to make her own, the prostitute reformed." Also in France she did Les Dragueurs (1959) starring Charles Aznavour, later released in the US as The Chasers.
In October 1958 Rank announced they would not pick up its option on Lee's contract at the end of the year, the same day they announced they would not pick up the contracts for Patrick McGoohan. (Two weeks earlier they made a similar announcement for Ronald Lewis.) "We cannot be certain of parts in the immediate future for these two artists", said a Rank spokesperson. "But that does not mean that they would not be very welcome if any suitable parts did arise. Miss Lee has often said she would rather not work in this country." The spokesman added "the dropping of Miss Lee's contract has no connection with events earlier in the year." Lee, then in France making a movie, said "I had an idea that something of the sort was likely...Naturally, I am not pleased but neither am I too disturbed." Rank had cut its contract list to 23, when it had been 100 a few years previously. "This will give me more time to make pictures in Italy and France", she added. She relocated to continental Europe and Rank subsequently puts its efforts into promoting Anne Heywood. The month before, John Davis of Rank had said "Young artists today won't work. They are given a big build=up by the press and it goes to their heads. We get others who say 'We don't want to leave Britain for a year'. They lose all sense of proportion."
In December 1958 it was reported Lee and Orsini had moved in together in Paris.
Lee's first film post-Rank was The Nights of Lucretia Borgia (1959), shot in Italy, playing the title role. In early 1959 she made The Magliari (1959), an Italian film shot in Germany directed by Francesco Rosi. She stayed in Germany to make a local movie, Love Now, Pay Later (1959), playing Rosemarie Nitribitt, a prostitute who was murdered.
In June 1959 she said "Now all the time I make films One after the other. It won't last but now I am in demand. I might as well cash in on it. For the first time I make money. Always am I asked now to play wicked women... On the Continent I'm thought of always in connection with parts like that. Bit of a change from the old Rank Orgy. But I'm not ambitions anymore. I don't care any more to be a big star. I used to be so ambitious – now it means nothing to me. Now I just wanted to make some money. So I can live the way I want to."
In August 1959 Lee was in Marie of the Isles (1959), a French-Italian adventure tale where she played the real life Marie Bonnard du Parquet. This was followed by Vacations in Majorca (1959), an Italian comedy and Messalina (1960), an Italian Ancient history epic where Lee played the title role, shot in late 1959. In December she was in Munich to film Satan Tempts with Love (1960) when she announced her relationship with Orsini was over. Orsini later wrote that when Lee went to Germany to make a movie "she felt would be important to her career" he refused to come, which ended their relationship.
In December 1960 Lee announced her engagement to filmmaker Gualtiero Jacopetti. Shortly afterwards he was charged with molesting three girls under eleven years of age in Hong Kong. He had also once been married to a thirteen year old who had accused him of rape, and was waiting for his divorce from her. She took several months off to accompany Jacopetti around the world to shoot footage for a documentary. "When she loved a man she loved him completely", said one friend.
In March 1961, Belinda Lee died in a car accident near San Bernardino, California, on her way to Los Angeles from Las Vegas, along Highway 91, nine miles east of Baker. The car was going at 100 miles an hour (Lee was not the driver) when a tyre blew, causing the car to skid. Lee was thrown from the car and found lying 63 feet away; she was pronounced dead at Barstow Community Hospital. The three Italian men with her were injured.
The 1963 semidocumentary Italian film The Women of the World was dedicated to Lee with a written announcement at the start of the film (which interrupts the title music): "To Belinda Lee, who throughout this long journey accompanied and helped us with love."
The Daily Mail reviewing Joseph in 1964 said "we come away sadly reflecting that properly handled, which she so rarely was, Belinda Lee might have been groomed into some kind of English Loren."
Currently, Belinda Lee is 87 years, 9 months and 15 days old. Belinda Lee will celebrate 88th birthday on a Thursday 15th of June 2023.
Find out about Belinda Lee birthday activities in timeline view here.