Priscilla Lawson as Princess Aura
March 8, 1914
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
|Died||August 27, 1958
Los Angeles, California, USA
|Parent(s)||Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Shortridge|
Lawson was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Shortridge of Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Shortridge was a railroad yard foreman.
Lawson was a professional model by her early twenties and was named Miss Miami Beach in 1935. This gained her a contract with Universal Studios, which used her in a variety of small roles. However, in 1936 she was cast in the serial Flash Gordon as the voluptuous daughter of the villain, Ming the Merciless. Princess Aura's rivalry with Dale Arden for Flash Gordon's affection was one of the centerpieces of the serial and gained Lawson cult figure status.
Roy Kinnard wrote in Science Fiction Serials: A Critical Filmography of the 31 Hard SF Cliffhangers; With an Appendix of the 37 Serials with Slight SF Content, "Lawson's notable physical assets were responsible for incurring the wrath of censors" in the filming of Flash Gordon. Co-star Jean Rogers told him that censors ordered retakes of Chapter 1 of the serial with Lawson "wearing slightly less revealing garb."
Little is known of her post-Hollywood life. Lawson married Hollywood leading man Alan Curtis (1909-1953) in November 1937 and enlisted in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. An unverified rumor claims she lost a leg in an accident while serving in the Army. Another version is that she lost a leg in a 1937 car crash. However, her Flash Gordon co-star Jean Rogers denied that Lawson had lost a leg, and it was also rejected in a biographical review in an Indianapolis journal.
On August 27, 1958, Lawson died at 44 in Monrovia, California, due to cirrhosis and upper gastrointestinal bleeding caused by a duodenal ulcer. She was interred at Live Oak Memorial Park in Monrovia.
- "Father of Actress, Miss Lawson, Dies". The Oshkosh Northwestern. Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Associated Press. March 15, 1939. p. 10. Retrieved April 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Typical Cinderellas". Ironwood Daily Globe. Michigan, Ironwood. January 8, 1937. p. 14. Retrieved April 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kinnard, Roy (1998). Science Fiction Serials: A Critical Filmography of the 31 Hard SF Cliffhangers; With an Appendix of the 37 Serials with Slight SF Content. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 9780786437450. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- "Not Wanted". Pottstown Mercury. Pennsylvania, Pottstown. Associated Press. March 14, 1940. p. 13. Retrieved April 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. (2 volume set). McFarland. p. 430. ISBN 9781476625997. Retrieved 15 April 2017.