Shirley Anne Field, sixties beauty who starred on Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – obituary

Shirley Anne Field: Her career began as a model in the late 1950s – Shutterstock

Shirley Anne Field, who has died aged 87, was once spoken of as Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe; Of notable beauty, she appeared in some of the most popular films of the 1960s, including The Entertainer, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Alfie.

At the height of her success she enjoyed romances with Labor politician Anthony Crosland, Dudley Moore and photographer Terry O’Neill. Dennis Hamilton, Diana Dors’s husband, and Hollywood director Otto Preminger vigorously (though unsuccessfully) pursued her.

Frank Sinatra invited her to dinner in Mayfair (he had seen her photograph and thought “you look like a fun girl”). While she was on a publicity tour of the United States she met President Kennedy, who gave her a rocking chair to relieve her back pain. It was drawn by Stephen Ward, the osteopath and society artist who would later be destroyed by the Profumo scandal.

With Albert Finney on Saturday Night and Sunday MorningWith Albert Finney on Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

With Albert Finney on Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – Alamy

However, by the time she turned 30, Comet Shirley Anne Field was virtually extinct. Following her brief marriage to a racing driver with aristocratic connections, she was unable to establish her career, although she continued to play roles on both stage and screen well into old age.

Throughout her life she seemed tormented by the deprivations of her childhood, which left her with feelings of deep insecurity.

The daughter of an irresponsible Cockney lorry driver, she was born Shirley Anne Broomfield on June 27, 1936, and her early years in London’s East End were marked by the Blitz, during which the family home was damaged by bombs on several occasions.

At the age of five she was separated from her parents, two sisters and a brother and sent to live in a National Children’s Home and Orphanage at Edgworth, near Bolton in Lancashire.

With singer Adam Faith in 1961With singer Adam Faith in 1961

With singer Adam Faith in 1961 – Popperfoto via Getty Images

A year passed before she was visited for the first time by her mother, who then sent her a package containing 27 hand-sewn dresses, all of different sizes. Shirley later learned that her mother was planning to leave England with an American serviceman and wanted to make sure her daughter had clothes that fit her when she grew up (in the case, the house distributed the dresses among the other girls, allowing Shirley to keep only one).

At age 10 she was moved to another institution, in Blackburn, where she attended the local Blakey Moor girls’ school for two years before returning to Edgworth.

It was a welcome release when, aged 15, Shirley was allowed to live in a hostel in north London.

She trained as a typist and was hired by a retired US Marine general named Victor, who had a habit of mentoring pretty teenage girls. “You were not obligated to share his bed,” Shirley Anne Field later said, “although he would make it easy for you.” Victor would later live out the last four years of his life in Shirley’s apartment, where she devotedly cared for him.

As a teenager, Shirley dreamed of success as a model and actress. At night she went dancing at the Lyceum, and one of the American soldiers she met there enrolled her in the beauty pageant for the Coronation of the Queen of Great Britain; she won, raising £250 and free trips to any US Air Force base in Britain so she could appear at balls and other special occasions.

After working briefly as a magician’s assistant at Battersea amusement park, she got a job as a typist with the Gas Council, which asked her to pose for an advertisement sitting on top of a gas cooker.

With Oliver Reed in The DamnedWith Oliver Reed in The Damned

With Oliver Reed in The Damned – Alamy

This assignment caught the attention of photographers and she enrolled at the Lucie Clayton Modeling School and Agency, where she learned “social skills, makeup, staying in shape, how to host a dinner party, and the proper way for a girl to groom herself.” getting in and out of a car without showing your panties.” She was soon offered a job modeling English Rose bras.

She also did pin-up photography for magazines such as Reveille, and was hired by the Bill Watts Agency for Misses Special, girls in movies who “wore next to nothing and received one or two lines of dialogue.” In her first such role, for a comedy called All For Mary, she sat on a plane behind a copy of Vogue, which she lowered to wink at David Tomlinson (who would later play George Banks in Mary Poppins). ).

Shirley Anne Field’s career began to flourish in 1960, with the release of Beat Girl, in which she appeared opposite Adam Faith, and Tony Richardson’s The Entertainer (based on the play by John Osborne), in which she played to beauty queen Tina with Laurence Olivier. .

When Shirley Anne auditioned for the role of Tina, she was asked if she could speak with a northern accent. She responded, “I just spent two years learning not to.”

With Laurence Olivier in The EntertainerWith Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer

With Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer – Alamy

That same year she was seen (alongside Karlheinz Böhm, Moira Shearer and Anna Massey) in Michael Powell’s spooky Peeping Tom, and in the successful production “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”, in which she played Doreen, one of the lovers of factory worker Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney). Also in 1960, playing a stripper, she co-starred with Kenneth More in Basil Dearden’s comedy Man in the Moon.

In John Mortimer’s Lunch Hour (1961), Shirley Anne Field starred opposite Robert Stephens in an hour-long film about an office romance that became something of a minor classic.

More films followed: The War Lover (1962), in which he shared the main bill with Steve McQueen and Robert Wagner; The Damned (also 1962), with Oliver Reed; Kings of the Sun (1963), Mesoamerican epic with Yul Brynner; Doctor in Clover (1966); and Alfie (1966), starring Michael Caine and nominated for five Oscars.

In 1967, Shirley Anne Field married Charlie Crichton-Stuart, a racing driver and flight instructor who was also a cousin of the Marquess of Bute. Within months of their marriage, bailiffs were removing furniture from her London flat, and within four years it was clear to her that the marriage was over.

Shirley Anne Field and Michael Caine in AlfieShirley Anne Field and Michael Caine in Alfie

Shirley Anne Field and Michael Caine in Alfie – Shutterstock

Shirley Anne Field continued her career as an actress, although without fully recovering the success of her early years. She was Saeed Jaffrey’s lover in Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette (1985); Cathleen Doyle in Hear My Song, by Peter Chelsom (1991); and Mrs. Bolton, housekeeper, in the 1993 BBC miniseries Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

His numerous television credits included Santa Barbara; Glen Monarch; The invoice; Dalziel and Pascoe; Murder, she wrote; Never both; Bottom up; The last wine of summer; and Shoelace.

In 1978, Shirley Anne Field was finally reunited with her mother, who by then was living in the United States, where she had three more daughters. But there was more pain for the family in 1999, when Shirley Anne’s younger brother, Guy Broomfield, was murdered in San Francisco by his girlfriend’s son, heir to the DHL courier fortune.

Shirley Anne Field was a regular guest speaker on cruise ships. In 1991 she published her memoir, A Time for Love.

With Charlie Crichton-Stuart she had a daughter, Nicola. When asked in 1993 why she had never remarried, Shirley Anne Field responded: “I have fallen in love too many times and always with the wrong people.”

Shirley Anne Field, born June 27, 1936, died December 10, 2023

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