She made her name as sexy Lady Georgina Worsley in the classic 1970s period TV drama Upstairs, Downstairs before swapping the small screen for the glamour of Hollywood – and trailblazing a path for future British stars to follow.
Now Lesley-Anne Down has revealed that her greatest challenge in the US was not landing roles in movies or learning her lines, but fighting off lecherous Hollywood executives and stars who made a beeline for her.
As Dame Helen Mirren recently revealed, the 1970s was a tricky time for young actresses. Then in her 20s, she was, she says, trapped in a period that came after the sexual revolution but before feminism. ‘Men saw that as a sort of “Oh, fantastic! We can f*** anything, however we like, whenever we like! They’re up for grabs, boys!’’’
And Lesley-Anne, 61 – voted Britain’s Most Beautiful Teenager at just 15 – couldn’t agree more. Her pale complexion, big brown eyes and cut-glass accent made her a huge hit in America when she moved there in 1975, aged 21.
One of her earliest experiences of sexual harassment came when she was invited to the home of a legendary Hollywood actor and his wife and family.
‘I ended up staying for about three weeks,’ says Lesley-Anne. ‘One night he was screening The Poseidon Adventure and he said, ‘‘Come and sit next to me.” He then added, “Have some popcorn,’’ so I put my hand in the carton and just froze.
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