Who was Diane Cilento?
Diane Cilento was an Australian actress who had acted in films such as ‘Tom Jones’ and ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’. Born in Queensland, Australia, she wanted to be an actress from a very early age. After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she started her acting career with important roles in films like 'Passage Home'. She soon earned a nomination for the Tony Award in the category of 'Best Supporting or Featured Actress' for her performance in the play 'Tiger at the Gates.' As her career progressed, she was seen in a supporting role in the Oscar winning film 'Tom Jones'. She was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the category of 'Best Supporting Actress'. The film was declared the 51st greatest British film of the 20th century by the British Film Institute. Other films she appeared in over the next years include 'Rattle of a Simple Man' where she played the role of a prostitute. The last films in her life were 'For the Term of His Natural Life' and 'The Boy Who Had Everything'. She passed away in 2011 from liver cancer.
Diane Cilento was able to find work almost immediately after her graduation. Her first lead role was in the 1955 British movie ‘Passage Home’. It was directed by Roy Ward Baker. The following year, she earned a nomination for the Tony Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for her performance in the play ‘Tiger at the Gates’ wherein Cilento had portrayed the legendary character Helen of Troy.
In the ensuing years she appeared in films, such as ‘The Woman for Joe’ (1955), ‘Jet Storm’ (1959), ‘The Full Treatment’ (1960) and ‘I Thank A Fool’ (1962). In 1963, she was nominated for an Oscar in the category of ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for her role in the British comedy film ‘Tom Jones’. The film, which was directed by Tony Richardson, was a commercial success. It was also nominated for ten Oscars out of which it won four.
Diane Cilento was next seen in the British drama film ‘The Third Secret’ in 1964. It was directed by Charles Crichton. She appeared in many other important films in the 1960s including ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ (1965) and ‘Hombre’ (1967). Her later filmography includes movies, such as ‘Hitler: The Last Ten Days’ (1973), ‘Big Toys’ (1980), ‘Duet For Four’ (1982), and ‘The Boy Who Had Everything’ (1985). In 2001, she was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for her ‘distinguished service to the arts especially theatre’.
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Diane Cilento was born in Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia on 5 October 1933 to Sir Raphael Cilento and Phyllis, Lady Cilento. Both her parents practiced medicine.
From an early age, Diane Cilento aspired to become an actress. She was expelled from her school, after which she went to New York to pursue her education. Later she earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in England.
Her first marriage was with Andrea Volpe from 1956 to 1960. They had one daughter named Giovanna Volpe. From 1962 to 1973, she was married to Sean Connery. They had one son named Jason Connery. She was married to Anthony Shaffer from 1985 till his death in 2001. Her third husband had two daughters from a previous marriage.
Cilento wrote an autobiography named ‘My Nine Lives’, in 2006, where she said that her second husband had abused her.
She passed away from liver cancer on 6th October 2011, just a day after her 78th birthday, at Cairns Base Hospital. She was interred at the Highgate Cemetery located at High Gate, Greater London, England. After her death, some items from her estate were donated to the Queensland University of Technology.