Diane Hart
Diane Hart was an English actress in both movies and the theater in the West End Theater
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 of London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, political campaigner and inventor. For 12 years she was married to the television broadcaster Kenneth MacLeod before separating in 1968. MacLeod was one of the first seen in the early days of Rediffusion
Rediffusion was a business which distributed radio and TV signals through wired relay networks. The business gave rise to a number of other companies, including Associated-Rediffusion, later known as Rediffusion London, one of the first companies to win a terrestrial ITV franchise in the UK...

 and later, from 1968 and for many years, was the 6 o'clock evening Westward Diary anchorman at Westward Television
Westward Television
Westward Television was the first ITV franchise holder for the South West of England from 29 April 1961 until 31 December 1981. After a difficult start, Westward provided a popular, distinctive and highly regarded service to its region, until public boardroom squabbles led to its franchise not...

. They had two daughters.

Born in 1926, Hart was educated at various convents and then at Abbot's Hill School, King's Langley (where she was a Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 scholar). She went after her Matriculation at 14 to RADA
Rada is the term for "council" or "assembly"borrowed by Polish from the Low Franconian "Rad" and later passed into the Czech, Ukrainian, and Belarusian languages....

 at a very young age in 1941. She started working for the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 as a secretary and, in the middle years of the Second World War, as a audio engineer, where she played Hitler's speeches back to the Germans from the BBC in the UK over their airwaves.

It was then in 1943 that Hart started on stage as a feed in a double act with the comedian (later an agent) Pat Aza at the Finsbury Park Empire. This led to a six-month tour of the Moss Empires
Moss Empires
Moss Empires was a British company formed in Edinburgh from the merger of the theatre companies owned by Sir Edward Moss and Sir Oswald Stoll in 1898. This created the largest British chain of music halls...

 circuit on the halls. After this she continued her war service entertaining the troops for ENSA
ENSA may refer to:* ENSA, the Entertainments National Service Association* ENSA * École Nationale des Sciences Appliquées d'Oujda, an engineering school in Morocco* EC-Council Network Security Administrator...


Her theatre breakthrough came, though, with her casting in a supporting role in Daughter Janie Apollo Theatre
Apollo Theatre
The Apollo Theatre is a Grade II listed West End theatre, on Shaftesbury Avenue in the City of Westminster. Designed by architect Lewin Sharp for owner Henry Lowenfield, and the fourth legitimate theatre to be constructed on the street, its doors opened on 21 February 1901 with the American...

, 1944) which led to William Douglas-Home
William Douglas-Home
William Douglas Home was court-martialled in World War II for his refusal to obey orders as a British army officer and later became a successful British dramatist.-Early life:...

's early hit The Chiltern Hundreds
The Chiltern Hundreds (play)
The Chiltern Hundreds is a 1947 stage comedy by William Douglas-Home. It was adapted as a film in 1949, under the same title. Revivals of the play have included a 1999 production at the Vaudeville Theatre starring Edward Fox.-Sources:...

(Vaudeville Theatre
Vaudeville Theatre
The Vaudeville Theatre is a West End theatre on The Strand in the City of Westminster. As the name suggests, the theatre held mostly vaudeville shows and musical revues in its early days. It opened in 1870 and was rebuilt twice, although each new building retained elements of the previous...

, 1946, and Booth Theatre
Booth Theatre
The Booth Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 222 West 45th Street in midtown-Manhattan, New York City.Architect Henry B. Herts designed the Booth and its companion Shubert Theatre as a back-to-back pair sharing a Venetian Renaissance-style façade...

, New York, 1949). This political light comedy, centered round an 'Earl of Lister' and a local by-election, Hart played the comic role of the young housemaid Bessie opposite A.E. Matthews
A. E. Matthews
A.E. Matthews OBE was an English actor who played numerous character roles on the stage and in film for eight decades, and who became known for his longevity.-Biography:...


When Glynis Johns
Glynis Johns
Glynis Johns is a South African-born Welsh stage and film actress, dancer, pianist and singer . With a career spanning seven decades, Johns is often cited as the "complete actress", who happens to be a trained pianist and singer...

 – the original choice – became unavailable for Terence Rattigan
Terence Rattigan
Sir Terence Mervyn Rattigan CBE was one of England's most popular 20th-century dramatists. His plays are generally set in an upper-middle-class background...

's comedy Who is Sylvia? Criterion Theatre
Criterion Theatre
The Criterion Theatre is a West End theatre situated on Piccadilly Circus in the City of Westminster, and is a Grade II* listed building. It has an official capacity of 588.-Building the theatre:...

, 1950, Hart was cast instead. In this production, she had to play three roles, one in each act as an office girl, an actress and a model. The play opened at the home of Rattigan's first success, French Without Tears
French Without Tears
French Without Tears is a comic play written by Terence Rattigan in 1936. It takes place in a cram school for adults needing to acquire French for business reasons. The play was a success on its London debut, establishing Rattigan as a dramatist...

, and also co-starred two of its cast Robert Flemyng
Robert Flemyng
Robert Flemyng OBE, MC was a British film and stage actor.Flemyng was born in Liverpool, the son of a doctor, and was educated at Haileybury. He began his career as a medical student before abandoning medicine to become an actor. Flemyng made his stage debut in the early 1930s, and worked steadily...

 and Roland Culver
Roland Culver
Roland Culver OBE was a British stage, film, and television actor.-Life and career:...

. It ran for just under a year and gained the young Diane Hart positive critical reviews.

In Nancy Mitford
Nancy Mitford
Nancy Freeman-Mitford, CBE , styled The Hon. Nancy Mitford before her marriage and The Hon. Mrs Peter Rodd thereafter, was an English novelist and biographer, one of the Bright Young People on the London social scene in the inter-war years...

's version of Andrew Roussin's French farce
In theatre, a farce is a comedy which aims at entertaining the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include word play, and a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases,...

 The Little Hut
The Little Hut
The Little Hut is a 1957 British-American romantic comedy film made by MGM. It was directed by Mark Robson, produced by Mark Robson and F. Hugh Herbert, from a screenplay by F. Hugh Herbert, adapted by Nancy Mitford from the play La petite hutte by André Roussin...

 at the Lyric Theatre
Lyric Theatre (London)
The Lyric Theatre is a West End theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in the City of Westminster.Designed by architect C. J. Phipps, it was built by producer Henry Leslie with profits from the Alfred Cellier and B. C. Stephenson hit, Dorothy, which he transferred from the Prince of Wales Theatre to open...

 in 1950, Hart was cast for the West End version instead of the American actress who created the role Joan Tetzel
Joan Tetzel
Joan Margaret Tetzel was an American actress.-Film career:Joan Tetzel is famous for her outstanding performance in Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case, where she played "Judy Flaquer", the daughter of the solicitor played by Charles Coburn in the film...

, taking over opposite Robert Morley
Robert Morley
Robert Adolph Wilton Morley, CBE was an English actor who, often in supporting roles, was usually cast as a pompous English gentleman representing the Establishment...

, and directed by Peter Brook. She also enjoyed a six-months' stint as Mollie Ralston in one of the earliest runs of The Mousetrap (Ambassadors Theatre, 1953), and then abandoned the stage for 11 years in favour of television and the cinema.

In March 1963, she translated the Sardou play, 'Divorce A La Carte' and appeared in the production of the same with John Justin, Barry Shawzin and Katy Greenwood at the Phoenix Theatre in London. Then in 1964, she appeared on the West End stage with her friend, Margaret Lockwood (with whom she had first worked in The Wicked Lady, above) in Every Other Evening also at the Phoenix. A long-running engagement came Hart's way with Joyce Rayburn's West End comedy The Man Most Likely To . . . (Vaudeville Theatre
Vaudeville Theatre
The Vaudeville Theatre is a West End theatre on The Strand in the City of Westminster. As the name suggests, the theatre held mostly vaudeville shows and musical revues in its early days. It opened in 1870 and was rebuilt twice, although each new building retained elements of the previous...

, 1968) opposite Leslie Phillips
Leslie Phillips
Leslie Samuel Phillips, CBE is an English actor with a highly recognisable upper class accent. Originally known for his work as a comedy actor, Phillips subsequently made the transition to character roles.-Early life:...

. She also had another long Vaudeville residency acting with Terence Alexander
Terence Alexander
Terence Joseph Alexander was an English film and television actor, best known for his role as Charlie Hungerford in the British TV drama Bergerac.-Early life and career:...

 and replacing Moira Lister
Moira Lister
Moira Lister de Gachassin-Lafite, Vicomtesse d’Orthez was an Anglo-South African film, stage and television actress, and writer.-Early life:...

 in the successful Ray Cooney
Ray Cooney
Raymond George Alfred Cooney, OBE is an English playwright and actor. His biggest success, Run for Your Wife, lasted nine years in London's West End and is its longest-running comedy. He has had 17 of his plays performed there....

/John Chapman farce Move Over, Mrs Markham (1972).

She also participated in theatre in Sloane Square
Sloane Square
Sloane Square is a small hard-landscaped square on the boundaries of the fashionable London districts of Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Chelsea, located southwest of Charing Cross, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The square is part of the Hans Town area designed in 1771 by Henry...

 when she worked at The Royal Court. Hart's first appearance there was as the mother in an early Howard Barker
Howard Barker
Howard E. Barker is a British playwright.-The Theatre of Catastrophe :Barker has coined the term "Theatre of Catastrophe" to describe his work...

 play, Cheek Royal Court Theatre
Royal Court Theatre
The Royal Court Theatre is a non-commercial theatre on Sloane Square, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is noted for its contributions to modern theatre...

 Upstairs, 1970). She then took a role in Morality (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 1971), a piece by Jeremy Seabrook and Michael O'Neill, directed by William Gaskill
William Gaskill
William 'Bill' Gaskill is a British theatre director.He worked alongside Laurence Olivier as a founding director of the National Theatre from its time at the Old Vic in 1963...

, a domestic drama about a schoolboy involved in a homosexual relationship with a teacher.

In later years, although she often worked in regional theatre playing, among other parts, the title role in Somerset Maugham's Mrs Dot (Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, 1974), in The Bank Manager (East Grinstead, 1974), Miss Adams Will Be Waiting (Arnaud, Guildford, 1975) and The Pleasure Principle (New End, Hampstead 1989) and other plays.

Hart's film career, started much earlier though in the 1940s with a small bridesmaid's role in the Margaret Lockwood costume drama The Wicked Lady
The Wicked Lady
The Wicked Lady is a 1945 film starring Margaret Lockwood in the title role as a nobleman's wife who secretly becomes a highwayman for the excitement...

 (1945), and included a contract to 20th Century-Fox. She also worked for Jean Negulesco
Jean Negulesco
Jean Negulesco was a Romanian-born American film director and screenwriter....

 in Britannia Mews
Britannia Mews
Britannia Mews is a 1949 British drama film directed by Jean Negulesco and starring Dana Andrews, Maureen O'Hara, Sybil Thorndike, Fay Compton and A.E. Matthews. In Victorian London, a young woman marries a poor drunken artist and struggles to make ends meet...

 (1949), scripted by Ring Lardner Jr.
Ring Lardner Jr.
Ringgold Wilmer "Ring" Lardner, Jr. was an American journalist and screenwriter blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studios during the Red Scare of the late 1940s and 1950s.-Early life:...

, and playing opposite David Niven
David Niven
James David Graham Niven , known as David Niven, was a British actor and novelist, best known for his roles as Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days and Sir Charles Lytton, a.k.a. "the Phantom", in The Pink Panther...

 in the musical Happy Go Lovely
Happy Go Lovely
Happy Go Lovely is a 1951 British musical comedy film with Technicolor, directed by H. Bruce Humberstone and starring Vera Ellen, David Niven, and Cesar Romero. The film was made and first released, in the UK, and distributed in the US by RKO Radio Pictures in 1952...

 (1951). Hart's husband, Kenneth MacLeod, was also in the movie with a small part.

She also made many television appearances, beginning at Alexandra Palace during the war as well as radio performances for Val Gielgud and played Ted Ray's wife in Season 4 of the 'Ray's a Laugh' series.

Apart from acting, one of her inventions was the "Beatnix" corselet http://museums.leics.gov.uk/collections-on-line/GetObjectAction.do?objectKey=271098, which during the 1960s had large sales at Britain's Marks and Spencers. One customer was in the Soviet Union, the wife of the Russian premier, Mrs Alexei Kosygin. Also at one point she persuaded The British War Office to adopt another of her inventions. She suggested they attach harrows to a helicopter to clear landmines during the Falklands Campaign.

In politics, Hart once tried to set up a "Women's Party" for the UK. She posted an anonymous advertisement in the personal columns of The Times which read: "Ladies. Don't just sit there. If you are sick of castles* in the air, sit in the House of Commons. Wanted, 630 ladies willing to gamble £500 each fighting a constituency."
  • a reference to Barbara Castle, MP, who at the time was the only prominent British female politician.

She hired Caxton Hall in central London for a rally but only about 40 women turned up. Then she ran in the General Election of 1970 as an Independent candidate Lewisham South and lost her deposit. She was criticized by Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer is an Australian writer, academic, journalist and scholar of early modern English literature, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the later 20th century....

 in the last pages - as a footnote - in her work The Female Eunuch
The Female Eunuch
The Female Eunuch is a book first published in 1970 that became an international bestseller and an important text in the feminist movement. The author, Germaine Greer, became well known in broadcast media of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and her home of Australia...


In 1977 Hart led a legal action (Source: The Times August 25, 1977) against the actors' union Equity, of which she was a very longstanding member, to stop a referendum of their members over changes to union rules. Four years later she also successfully took on the Aga Khan Foundation United Kingdom conducting the five-day 'plaintiff in person' without legal counsel. She was awarded £750 damages at the High Court (Source: The Times, June 16, 1981) to compensate her for the noise and nuisance caused by the construction of the Ismaili Centre opposite her home in London by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

She was also plaintiff in person in her litigation in 1985, when she was awarded £15,000 (Source: The Times, November 12, 1985) in libel damages after a clip was taken from a film in which she appeared with Joanna Lumley, Richard Wattis, Jeremy Lloyd, Penny Brahms and Nan Munro, Games Lovers Play (1970). This clip was incorporated illegally into a pornographic film called Electric Blue, 002 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0220407/trivia.

In her last years, she spent time at the Chelsea Arts Club
Chelsea Arts Club
The Chelsea Arts Club is a private members club located in London with a membership of over 2,400, including artists, poets, architects, writers, dancers, actors, musicians, photographers, and filmmakers...

, where she was a member and where she everyday completed The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 and The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

 cryptic crosswords with great speed. She could usually be seen cycling to and from the Club, between the West End and the King's Road
Kings Road
King's Road or Kings Road, known popularly as The King's Road or The KR, is a major, well-known street stretching through Chelsea and Fulham, both in west London, England...

, on her bicycle in a full-length mink coat.

Selected filmography

  • The Ghosts of Berkeley Square
    The Ghosts of Berkeley Square
    The Ghosts of Berkeley Square is a 1947 British comedy film, directed by Vernon Sewell and starring Robert Morley and Felix Aylmer. The film is an adaptation of the novel No Nightingales by Caryl Brahms and S. J. Simon, inspired by the enduring reputation of the property at 50 Berkeley Square as...

  • Britannia Mews
    Britannia Mews
    Britannia Mews is a 1949 British drama film directed by Jean Negulesco and starring Dana Andrews, Maureen O'Hara, Sybil Thorndike, Fay Compton and A.E. Matthews. In Victorian London, a young woman marries a poor drunken artist and struggles to make ends meet...

  • Happy Go Lovely
    Happy Go Lovely
    Happy Go Lovely is a 1951 British musical comedy film with Technicolor, directed by H. Bruce Humberstone and starring Vera Ellen, David Niven, and Cesar Romero. The film was made and first released, in the UK, and distributed in the US by RKO Radio Pictures in 1952...

  • Something Money Can't Buy
    Something Money Can't Buy
    Something Money Can't Buy is a 1952 British film starring Patricia Roc and Anthony Steel.-Cast:* Patricia Roc as Anne Wilding* Anthony Steel as Captain Harry Wilding* Moira Lister as Diana Haverstock* A.E...

  • Father's Doing Fine
    Father's Doing Fine
    Father's Doing Fine is a 1952 British comedy film directed by Henry Cass and starring Richard Attenborough, Heather Thatcher, Noel Purcell and Sid James. It was based on the 1950 play Little Lambs Eat Ivy by Noel Langley.-Cast:...

  • The Pickwick Papers
    The Pickwick Papers (film)
    The Pickwick Papers is a 1952 British film from George Minter of the Charles Dickens classic. Both screenplay and direction were by Noel Langley. It was awarded a Golden Bear in Russia where the rights were sold for £10,000.-Cast:...

  • The Crowning Touch
    The Crowning Touch
    The Crowning Touch is a 1959 British comedy film directed by David Eady and starring Ted Ray, Irene Handl and Greta Gynt.-Cast:* Ted Ray as Bert* Greta Gynt as Rosie* Griffith Jones as Mark* Sydney Tafler as Joe* Dermot Walsh as Aubrey Drake...

  • Enter Inspector Duval
    Enter Inspector Duval
    Enter Inspector Duval is a 1961 British crime film directed by Max Varnel and starring Anton Diffring, Diane Hart and Mark Singleton. A French policeman, Inspector Duval, is brought to London to help his British colleagues crack a case...

  • Games That Lovers Play
    Games That Lovers Play
    Games That Lovers Play is a 1970 British comedy film written and directed by Malcolm Leigh and starring Joanna Lumley, Penny Brahms and Richard Wattis.-Cast:* Joanna Lumley - Fanny Hill* Penny Brahms - Constance Chatterley* Richard Wattis - Lothran...


External links

  • Happy Go Lovely at the TCM Movie Database
    Turner Classic Movies
    Turner Classic Movies is a movie-oriented cable television channel, owned by the Turner Broadcasting System subsidiary of Time Warner, featuring commercial-free classic movies, mostly from the Turner Entertainment and MGM, United Artists, RKO and Warner Bros. film libraries...

  • Happy Go Lovely at the Internet Movie Database
    Internet Movie Database
    Internet Movie Database is an online database of information related to movies, television shows, actors, production crew personnel, video games and fictional characters featured in visual entertainment media. It is one of the most popular online entertainment destinations, with over 100 million...

  • Complete film (Public Domain) available for free download at the Internet Archive
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