Belinda Lee

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For a Singaporean host and actress of the same name, see Belinda Lee (host).
Belinda Lee
Belinda Lee 1960.jpg
Belinda Lee in Long Night in 1943 (1960)
Born (1935-06-15)15 June 1935
Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England
Died 12 March 1961(1961-03-12) (aged 25)
San Bernardino, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1954–1961
Spouse(s) Cornel Lucas (1954–1959)

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.

She made her film debut opposite Frankie Howerd in The Runaway Bus.[1]

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).[2]

Married to the photographer Cornel Lucas[3] 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).[4]

British exhibitors voted her the 10th most popular British film star at the box office in 1957.[5]

In 1958, Italian newspapers reported that 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, and indeed the Pope did remove Orsini and the Orsini family from their hereditary title of Prince Assistant to the Papal Throne.[6]

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.[7]

The 1963 semi-documentary Italian film The Women Of The World was dedicated to Lee (who had died two years previously), 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.[8]

Selected filmography[edit]

Grave of Belinda Lee at the Cimitero acattolico in Rome


  1. ^ MOTION PICTURE ACTIVITIES ALONG THE THAMES: Peter Brook Clicks As a Movie Director With 'Beggar's Opera' -- Other Matters By STEPHEN WATTSLONDON.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 June 1953: X5.
  2. ^ Who Done It? at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Cornell Lucas[dead link]
  4. ^ La lunga notte del '43 at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ "British Actors Head Film Poll: Box-Office Survey" (27 Dec. 1957) The Manchester Guardian p.3, Manchester (UK)
  6. ^ "Papal Prince's Title in Jeopardy", (29 January 1958) Independent, Long Beach, California, Access Newspaper Archive
  7. ^ "British actress dies in desert crash" (14 March 1961) The Bakersfield Californian, Access Newspaper Archive [1]
  8. ^ La donna nel mondo at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]