In 1953 Diana Dors was on the verge of becoming the most well known film star in Britain. Married to Denis Hamilton Gittins she was no stranger to publicity but on Wednesday 22 July she found herself getting rather more publicity than she would have liked.
Diana was in Manchester for the week appearing at the Hulme Hippodrome and the evening before her arrest Diana, husband Denis and a friend Freddie Markall, were in Blackpool and broke into the home of another of their friends, Frank Rogers.
When Mr Rogers returned home he found an open window and six bottles of liquor missing. He also discovered a note from Dors saying “we are getting drinks at your expense. Waited in for you. See you later.” Annoyed at the situation he called the police and Dors, Hamilton and Rogers were all arrested, released on bail of £10 and with a court appearance scheduled for the following Friday.
Diana was quick to talk to the press “My husband and I went over to Blackpool for a quiet weekend,” she said. “We arranged to meet Mr Rogers. We went to his flat but he was not in. We were with Mr Freddie Markall, a friend of Mr Rogers. Mr Markall had a key to Mr Roger’s flat but could not find it. We noticed a window about an inch open. Mr Markall and my husband opened it wider, and my husband climbed in and opened the door. Mr Markall and myself then joined my husband in the flat. We played a few records and had a few drinks.”
Diana also made the point that “I am always playing practical jokes on people, but in this case I was an innocent bystander.” When she appeared on stage Diana laughed the whole thing off, telling the audience “I had a terrible job to get the handcuffs off, but here I am.”
By this stage Rogers was trying to get the police to drop the charges, he had quickly got over his initial annoyance at the prank but the police would not budge.
When the trio appeared in court on Monday 27 Jul 1953 they were found guilty of stealing wine and spirits. Denis and Markall were each fined £10 but Dors was given an absolute discharge – meaning that a conviction was recorded but no penalty imposed. Dors was unimpressed “I am very surprised by the whole thing. Although I have been discharged I shall appeal, Larceny is a stain on one’s character.” A large crowd gathered outside the court mobbed Diana as she left the court with her husband and Markall.
This would not be Diana Dor’s only brush with the law, in January 1957 she was sued by band leader Eric Winstone over Diana failing to appear as booked for a midnight matinee in Clacton in July 1954. Diana was due to start work on a new film the following but claimed she couldn’t appear for Winstone because she had a sore throat. Diana counter claimed saying she had been slandered by Winstone. The case was something of a draw, Winstone won £5 damages for breach of contract, Diana though was award £100 for slander. The case itself cost £2000. Diana pledged to give her money to the R.A.F. Association.
Later that same year she was back in court again, her “manager” Thomas Yeardye had been charged with assaulting and obstructing a police officer having been stopped by police whilst driving. Diana brought her own summons against the police constable Roy Anderson on her own assault charges – her claim was that he yanked her arm when he tried to get both herself and Yeardye out of the car. She also claimed that he swore at her saying “just because you are a f—ing film star you need not think you can do what you f—ing like.” Anderson denied he had made the statement.
In 1958 she was summoned to appear at Bow Street in London for failing to to submit annual returns to the registrar of companies for her company Diana Dors Ltd. As the returns had then been filed she was given an absolute discharge but had to pay the 3 guineas costs.
In 1968 she was in the bankruptcy courts with debts (mostly to the tax man) of almost £50,000.
In May 1972 she appeared in court as a character witness in the case of 19 year old Richard Hughes who was charged with burglary. At the time Hughes was chauffeur to Dor’s husband Alan Lake.
Daily Herald 22 July 1953,
Belfast Telegraph 22 Jul y1953
Birmingham Daily Gazette 22 July 1953
Coventry Evening Telegraph 14 Jan 1957
Evening Post 11 May 1972