Diane Cilento in 1954
5 October 1933|
Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia
|Died||6 October 2011
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
(m. 1956–1960; divorced)
(m. 1962–1973; divorced)
(m. 1985–2001; his death)
Early life and education
Cilento was born in Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia. Her parents, Sir Raphael Cilento and Phyllis, Lady Cilento (née Phyllis Dorothy McGlew), were both distinguished medical practitioners in Queensland. Her paternal great-grandfather was Italian. Her maternal grandfather was merchant and exporter Charles Thomas McGlew.
At an early age she decided to follow a career as an actress and after being expelled from school in Australia, was schooled in New York while living with her father. She later won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and moved to England in the early 1950s.
After graduation, Cilento found work on stage almost immediately and was signed to a five-year contract by Sir Alexander Korda. Her first leading role in a movie was in the British film Passage Home (1955), opposite fellow Australian Peter Finch.
She soon secured roles in British films and worked steadily until the end of the decade. In 1956, Cilento was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for Helen of Troy in Jean Giraudoux's Tiger at the Gates.
She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Tom Jones in 1963 and appeared in The Third Secret the following year but she allowed her film career to decline following her marriage to actor Sean Connery, the second of her three husbands, to whom she was married from 1962–1973. They had one son, the actor Jason Connery. She also had a daughter, Giovanna, with her first husband.
In 1985, Cilento married Anthony Shaffer, a playwright, who wrote the script of The Wicker Man; she met him when she appeared in the film in 1973 and he joined her when she returned to Queensland in 1975.
Cilento continued working as an actress, in films and television; in the 1980s, she settled in Mossman, north of Cairns, where she built her own outdoor theatre, named "Karnak", in the tropical rainforest. The venture allowed her to participate in experimental drama.
In 2006, Cilento released her autobiography, My Nine Lives.
- Husbands and children
|1956–1960||Andrea||Giovanna (Gigi) Volpe (10 December 1957–)|
|1962–1973||Sean Connery (1930–)||Jason Connery (11 January 1963–)|
|In 1975, Shaffer made his home in Queensland with Cilento. They married in 1985.
Cilento was Shaffer's third wife; he had two daughters from a previous marriage.
Diane Cilento died of cancer at Cairns Base Hospital on 6 October 2011, the day after her 78th birthday. She is survived by both her children. A collection of items from her estate was donated to the Queensland University of Technology and is housed in the library.
- Wings of Danger (1952)
- Moulin Rouge (1952)
- Meet Mr. Lucifer (1953)
- The Angel Who Pawned Her Harp (1954)
- Passing Stranger (1954)
- Passage Home (1955)
- The Woman for Joe (1955)
- The Passionate Stranger (1957)
- The Admirable Crichton (1957)
- The Truth About Women (1957)
- Jet Storm (1959)
- The Full Treatment (1960)
- The Naked Edge (1961)
- I Thank a Fool (1962)
- Tom Jones (1963)
- The Third Secret (1964)
- Rattle of a Simple Man (1964)
- The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
- Hombre (1967)
- Negatives (1968)
- Z.P.G. (1972)
- Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973)
- The Wicker Man (1973)
- Duet for Four (1982)
- For the Term of His Natural Life (1983)
- The Boy Who Had Everything (1984)
- 1968: Manipulator. Charles Scribner's Sons.
- 1972: Hybrid. Dell Publishing.
- 2007: My Nine Lives. Penguin Books. ISBN 9780143006077
- Peter Keepnews (8 October 2011). "Diane Cilento, Oscar-Nominated Actress, Dies at 78". The New York Times.
- Brief Biography: Diane Cilento, Australian Biography (SBS TV), 2000.
- Mark Finnane, 'Cilento, Sir Raphael West (Ray) (1893–1985)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, Melbourne University Press, pp. 216–17.
- Mary D. Mahoney, 'Cilento, Phyllis Dorothy (1894–1987)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, Melbourne University Press, pp. 214–15.
- Interview transcript tape 1: Diane Cilento, Australian Biography (SBS TV), 2000.
- "MARIAN MARCH PAGE.". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 23 November 1954. p. 16. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
- Academy Awards Database, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1963
- Lisenti, Tom; Louis Paul (2002). Film fatales: women in espionage films and television, 1962–1973. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. p. 144. ISBN 0-7864-1194-5.
- McFarlane, Brian: Book Review: My Nine Lives, The Age, 29 April 2006.
- It's an Honour
- The Telegraph, 19 January 2007; Retrieved 3 April 2013
- How they live The Australian Women's Weekly 2 July 1958 p.21
- Australian actress Diane Cilento dies aged 78
- Surprise gift for Diane The Australian Women's Weekly 25 December 1968 p.2 – Contains photo of Sean, Gigi, Jason and Diane
- Obituary: Anthony Shaffer, 8 November 2001, The Guardian
- "Playwright's family fight off mistress's claim to share legacy", 10 February 2004, The Guardian
- Scott, Paul. "Sean Connery: The story of a brilliant but deeply flawed man". Daily Mail (London).
- Guardian obituary
- Actress Diane Cilento dies, 7 October 2011, ABC News
- The Cilento Gift
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Diane Cilento.|
- Diane Cilento at the Internet Movie Database
- Diane Cilento's Karnak Playhouse
- "From Stardom to Sufism" – interview with Cilento by Rachael Kohn on ABC Radio National May 2006 (MP3/Podcast available)
- The Cilento Gift - a collection of books, memorabilia, posters, furniture and original scripts from Diane Cilento's estate