Diane Cilento, Australian theatre and film actress, Died at 78

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Dead, Diane Cilento on the 6th of October 2011 at the age of 78 of cancer, she was an Australian theatre and film actress and author.
Born in Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia on the 5th of October 1933, 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.

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.

Cilento has stated that she was beaten unconscious by Connery in their hotel room during filming of The Hill.

Cilento disliked the majority of her early films, which were quite anaemic, apart from the passion she injected into her roles, something she put down to her Italian ancestry.

Her first leading part was in Roy Ward Baker’s murky J Arthur Rank drama Passage Home (1955), as the only woman on a cargo ship from South America to London.

Her sultry presence naturally gets the crew all steamed up, especially the captain Peter Finch and first mate Anthony Steele.

She again causes sexual tension in The Woman for Joe (also 1955), this time between a fairground owner (George Baker) and a dwarf working as one of his attractions.

In the same year, Cilento married an Italian aristocrat, Andrea Volpe, with whom she had a daughter, Giovanna.

It was back to morbid melodramas with The Full Treatment (1960), in which Cilento was the French wife of a disturbed racing driver (Ronald Lewis), and I Thank a Fool (1962), in which she pulls all the stops out as the mentally unstable wife of a barrister.

Thankfully, the role of Molly Seagrim came along in Tom Jones (1963), for which she was Oscar-nominated (along with Edith Evans and Joyce Redman in the same picture).

Cilento, in a dark wig, exudes vitality as the first of many young women to seduce the young hero, all in the spirit of Tony Richardson’s reduction of Henry Fielding’s great mock heroic “novel of manners” to a bawdy romp.

She married Connery in 1962 after they met while performing in the BBC production of Eugene O’Neill’s play Anna Christie. Their son, Jason, was born in 1963.

Paying tribute to the Oscar-nominated star today was Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh, who confirmed that she had died at the Cairns Base Hospital, in Cairns.

Ms Cilento’s son, Jason, is also an actor. His mother rose to fame in the 1950s and 1960s, starring alongside screen legends such as Charlton Heston and Paul Newman.

 

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