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Diane Cilento Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trivia (19)

Overview (4)

Born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Died in Cairns, Queensland, Australia  (cancer)
Birth NameElizabeth Diane Cilento
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Diane Cilento was an Australian actress from Queensland. She had partial Italian descent. She was once nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. For a theatrical role as Helen of Troy, Cilento was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

In 1932, Cilento was born in Brisbane, Queensland's state capital, to a relatively affluent family. Her maternal grandfather was the prominent merchant Charles Thomas McGlew (1870-1931), founder of the Liberty Motor Oil Company. Cliento's father was the medical practitioner Raphael "Ray" Cilento (1893-1985). He became famous as the director of the Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine, the director of the Commonwealth Government's Division of Tropical Hygiene, the Director-General of Health and Medical Services, the president of the Queensland's Medical Board, a high-ranking member of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, the Director for Refugees and Displaced Persons, and director of disaster relief in Palestine. Raphael spend much of his career combating malaria and other tropical diseases.

Cilento's mother was the medical practitioner and medical journalist Phyllis Cilento (née McGlew, 1894 - 1987). Phylis became famous for advocating family planning, contraception, and the legalization of abortion in Australia. She wrote many books on health matters. Her medical research involved the use of Vitamin E in therapy, and as a method for preventing blood clots.

Cilento was the fifth of six children born to her famous parents. Four or her siblings followed their parents' footsteps as medical practitioners. Cilento's most famous sibling was the professional painter and print-maker Margaret Cilento (1923-2006). Margaret's works are preserved in both the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia.

Cilento was expelled from school while living in Australia. She then studied abroad, spending part of her school years in the U.S. state of New York. She decided to follow an acting career and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), located in London. She settled in England during the early 1950s.

Following her graduation from RADA, Cilento started a career as a theatrical actress. She was eventually offered a five-year contract by the British film producer Alexander Korda (1893-1956), and took the offer. She started out with several small roles in film. Her first leading role was playing British governess Ruth Elton in the romantic drama "Passage Home" (1955). In the film, Elton rejects a marriage proposal from Captain Lucky Ryland (played by Peter Finch), who she barely knows. Ryland then tries to rape her. She eventually marries another man, but she is secretly in love with her would-be rapist.

During the late 1950s, Cilento found steady work in British films. She played the only woman in a love triangle in the circus-themed "The Woman for Joe" (1955). She played the between maid in the castaway-themed "The Admirable Crichton" (1957), an adaptation of a play by J. M. Barrie (1860-1937). She played a free-thinker in the romantic comedy "The Truth About Women" (1957),concerning the memories of an old man. She also had a role in the aviation disaster film "Jet Storm" (1959), in which a man has placed a bomb on a passenger airplane.

In the early 1960s, Cilento continued to have notable roles. She played the female lead Denise Colby in the psychological thriller "The Full Treatment" (1960). In the film Denise's husband struggles with mood swings and the dark impulse to kill his wife, which makes him fear for his sanity. The film was one of the murder-themed films produced by Hammer Film Productions.

Cilento played the supporting role of a murder suspect's wife in the thriller film "The Naked Edge" (1961). The film is mainly remembered as the last film role for protagonist Gary Cooper (1901-1961), who died of prostate cancer following the film's completion. Cilento played the murder victim Liane Dane in the crime film "I Thank a Fool" (1962), where a female doctor is suspected of killing her own patient.

Cilento played the most acclaimed role of her career as Molly Seagrim in the comedy film "Tom Jones" (1963), the title character's first love. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, but the award was instead won by rival actress Margaret Rutherford (1892 - 1972).

Cilento next played one of the murder suspects in the crime film "The Third Secret" (1964). In the film a well-known psychoanalyst is found murdered within his own residence, and a number of his patients are suspected of killing him. The main plot twist is that the victim was killed by someone much closer to him than his patients.

Cilento also played the prostitute Cyrenne in the comedy-drama film "Rattle of a Simple Man" (1964). The film concerns the efforts of 39-year-old virgin man to finally have sex. She next played the Italian noblewoman Contessina Antonia Romola de' Medici in the historical film "The Agony and the Ecstasy" (1965), a fictionalized version of the life of the artist Michelangelo (1475-1564). The film was critically acclaimed and nominated for awards, but under-performed at the box office. The struggling studio 20th Century Fox reportedly lost over 5 million dollars due to this box office flop.

Cilento had the supporting role of the caretaker Jessie in the revisionist Western film "Hombre" (1967). The film depicted the relations between the Apache and the white men in 19th-century Arizona. The film earned 12 million dollars in the worldwide box office, one of the greatest hits in its year for release.

Cilento's last film role in the 1960s was the photographer Reingard in the film "Negatives" (1968). The film concerned a couple who like to role-play as part of their erotic fantasies. But they choose to play the role of famous murdered Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen (1862-1910) and his lover. This film is remembered as the directorial debut of Hungarian expatriate Peter Medak (1937-), who later had a lengthy career.

Cilento gained her first regular television role when cast as Lady Sarah Bellasize in the prison-themed television series "Rogues' Gallery" (1968-1969). It depicted life in the famous Newgate Prison (1188 -1902) of London during the 18th century. The series lasted 2 seasons and a total of 10 episodes.

Following a hiatus in her film career, Cilento returned in the dystopian science fiction film "Z.P.G." ( "Zero Population Growth", 1972). The film depicted a future Earth suffering from overpopulation and environmental destruction. The world's government has decreed than no new child must be born over the next 30 years, but a couple decide to illegally procreate. Cilento played the supporting role of Edna Borden. Borden offers to help conceal the new baby from the world, while she actually wants to keep it for herself. The film's was well received in its time, and lead actress Geraldine Chaplin (1944-) won an award for this role.

Cilento played the role of the famous German test pilot Hanna Reitsch (1912-1979) in the historical film "Hitler: The Last Ten Days". (1973) The film depicted the last few days in the life of Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), based on the eye-witness account of Gerhard Boldt (1918 - 1981). The authenticity of the source book has since been questioned.

Cilento had a supporting role in the classic horror film "The Wicker Man" (1973), concerning a neo-pagan cult which practices Celtic paganism. The film was based on a novel by David Pinner (1940-). The film won the 1978 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film, and has often been listed among the best British films. It was one of the most acclaimed films of Cilento's career.

The lesser known film "The Tiger Lily" (1975) included Cilento's last film role in the 1970s. She gained another regular role in the television series "Tycoon" (1978), which only lasted a single season and a total of 13 episodes.

Her film career was in decline during the 1980s, and Cilento chose to return to her native Queensland. She settled in the small town of Mossman, named after the Mossman River which flows though it. She built the outdoor theater Karnak in the local rain-forest, which she operated for the rest of her life. She used the theater as a venue for experimental drama.

In 2001, Cilento was awarded with Australian's Centenary Medal for her services to theater. In 2007, Cilento published her autobiography "My Nine Lives". In her last years she was suffering from cancer. In 2011, she died due to this disease while hospitalized in the Cairns Base Hospital. The hospital was the largest major hospital in Far North Queensland. Cilento was 79-years-old at the time of her death.

Cilento was survived by her daughter Giovanna Volpe and her son Jason Connery (1963-), her only heirs. A collection of items from her personal estate was donated by her heirs to the Queensland University of Technology. The collection reportedly included "hundreds of books, memorabilia, posters, furniture". Also included were original scripts which Cilento had inherited from her last husband, the playwright Anthony Shaffer. Original scripts by both Cilento and Shaffer have been digitized, and made available to scholars through the University's digital collections.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dimos I

Family (4)

Spouse Anthony Shaffer (27 January 1985 - 6 November 2001)  (his death)
Sean Connery (29 November 1962 - 2 August 1974)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Andrea Volpe (12 February 1955 - 3 October 1962)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Children Giovanna Margaret Volpe
Jason Connery
Parents Raphael Cilento
Phyllis Cilento
Relatives Dashiell Connery (grandchild)

Trivia (19)

Mother of Jason Connery
Sister-in-law of Peter Shaffer.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1956 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for portraying Helen of Troy in Jean Giraudoux' "Tiger at the Gates."
Ex-mother-in-law of Mia Sara.
Managed and owned an open-air theater named 'Karnak Playhouse', located in the Daintree Rainforest, Mossman, Queensland. Hence why she did very little screen work after the 1980s.
She was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal in the 2001 Queen's New Years Honours List for her distinguished service to the arts especially theatre.
Has a daughter, Giovanna Margaret Volpe (born December 10, 1957) with her ex-husband, Andrea Volpe.
Grandmother of Dashiell Connery.
She is interred at Highgate Cemetery (East) in High Gate, Greater London, England in a plot next to her husband of 16 years Anthony Shaffer.
Her film career got started after critical acclaim for her performances with the Mercury Theatre in London and with the Library Theatre in Manchester.
She was the daughter of noted medical practitioners Sir Raphael and Lady Cilento. Schooled in Queensland and New York, she trained for acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and at RADA in 1950.
Mossman, Queensland, Australia [January 2009]
She lives in Queensland, Australia. [January 2006]
Her comeback on returning to Australia in the mid-1970s was meant to be the title character in Tim Burstall's The Rollicking Adventures of Eliza Fraser (1976). However, Burstall and Cilento didn't agree over some content, and Susannah York took the role.
During the early 1980s was working on a AUD $3.1million film to be titled 'The Great Lover' about Rudolph Valentino, which would have been her debut as a feature film director. Producer was to be Hilary Linstead, based on a script co-written by Cilento and co-producer Patrick Hockey (which in turn was based on earlier script by George Mikkell). Filming was scheduled to be shot in Brisbane, Australia with financial backing from the New South Wales Film Corporation, along with distribution through Greater Union Film Distributors. The cast was to have included: James Heathmore as Valentino, as well as both Jeanne Moreau (following earlier negotiations with Katharine Hepburn, Anne Bancroft, and Gloria Swanson) and Greta Scacchi playing the older and younger version of "The Woman in Black". The project was abandoned when funding fell through a few years later.
Appeared in two movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Moulin Rouge (1952) and Tom Jones (1963), with the latter being a winner in this category.
Her parents' records reveal that she was actually born on April 2, 1932 in Brisbane. Almost all other sources list October 5, 1933 as her date of birth.
Had plastic surgery on her nose.
Although her separation from Connery was announced on February 16, 1971, they didn't actually divorce for another three years.

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