|Born||Mary Lydia Thornton
28 December 1924
|Died||21 September 1988
Isleworth, Middlesex, England
|Spouse(s)||Norman Cole (1944-1947; divorced); 1 child
Jack Clayton (1947-1953; divorced)
Mitchell Dodge (1953-1955; divorced)
Herbert Hecht (1956-1961; divorced)
George Heselden (1980-1988; her death)
Christine Norden (28 December 1924 – 21 September 1988) was a British actress.
Born Mary Lydia Thornton in Mowbray Terrace, Sunderland, she was the daughter of a bus driver. Her childhood home was in Chester Road, Sunderland, and she was educated at Chester Road Primary School and Havelock School.
Norden gained experience singing and dancing while performing in wartime ENSA concerts and variety shows as a teenager. One claim to fame was that she was the first entertainer to land on Normandy beaches after D-Day. At the age of 20 she was "discovered" in a cinema queue and given a screen test by Sir Alexander Korda. Her screen debut was as a nightclub singer in the 1947 film Night Beat. In an interview with the Sunderland Echo on 3 June 1952 she said: "Please don't refer to me as the girl who was discovered in a cinema queue. I'm so tired of that tag. You see, nobody believes it, and it aggravates me so much because it happens to be true." Her best-known appearances were in An Ideal Husband, Mine Own Executioner and the 1949 film Saints and Sinners. She won a British National Film Award in 1949 for that performance.
After appearing in ten films within five years, Norden left Britain for America in 1952, where she settled in New York and married her third husband, US Air Force sergeant Mitchell Dodge. She went on to become an American citizen in 1960, starring on Broadway in the musical Tenderloin at around the same time. She also caused a sensation in 1967, when she became the first actress to appear topless on Broadway, in the comedy Scuba Duba.
Norden married five times, the first was to bandleader Norman Cole, by whom she had a son, Michael. Her other husbands included British film director Jack Clayton and musician Herbert Hecht. Her 1977 biography, The Champagne Days Are Over, also detailed other romantic links.
She died in Middlesex, aged 63, from pneumonia following heart bypass surgery. She was survived by her son, Michael Cole, and her widower, George Heselden, a retired mathematician who used to work for the Ministry of Defence. Actress June Mitchell (1933–2009) was Norden's sister. In 1988, following her death, part of the planet Venus was named after her as a tribute to her reputation of Britain's first postwar sex symbol.
- Mine Own Executioner (1947)
- An Ideal Husband (1947)
- Night Beat (1947)
- The Idol of Paris (1948)
- Saints and Sinners (1949)
- The Interrupted Journey (1949)
- Reluctant Heroes (1951)
- The Black Widow (1951)
- A Case for PC 49 (1951)