Headpress Books Established 1991

Fallen Stars

Probes the underside of fame to reveal a host of glittering careers stunted by ill-health, alcoholism, drug addiction and egomania.


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Twenty-one tales of stardom turned sour, these are the tragic final years of some of the world’s best-loved actors and comedians, a latter-day Hollywood Babylon that includes Benny Hill, Diana Dors, Peter Sellers, Carry On legends and many others.

Part One: Fame and Misfortune

  • Carol White: Hollywood and Bust – the Golden Girl of the sixties who ended up stranded – penniless, bloated and drunk – in a Miami hotel room
  • Rachel Roberts: Paradise Lost – losing love and self-respect – an accomplished actress spirals into tragedy
  • Oliver Reed: Hyde in Plain Site – the dark deeds and dashed ambition of a lifelong hellraiser
  • Diana Dors: The Lakes Regress – surviving abortion, divorce, bankruptcy and estrangement from her children before succumbing to cancer at 53
  • Mary Millington: True Blues – the sex, drugs and scandal behind the downfall of a delicate porn star

Part Two: Tragic Comics

  • Tony Hancock: Down and Under – the final humiliation of a troubled comic
  • Richard Beckinsale: The Dark Light Comedian – behind the cheerful facade of the brightest TV star of the seventies
  • Peter Sellers: Curse of the Pink Panther – commercial success, marital failure and emotional destruction – the turbulent final years of a tormented star
  • Charles Hawtrey: Sixteen Year Bender – the final desperate years of the Carry On legend who didn’t fit in.
  • Benny Hill: The Show’s Over – how his health rapidly declined after his unceremonious dismissal from Thames Television
  • Terry-Thomas: Temporarily Embarrassed – ravaged, impoverished, forgotten – a comic legend wasted by illness
  • Barry Evans: Misadventures of a Taxi Driver – the sadness and the mystery surrounding a forgotten star’s death
  • Peter Cook: A Life in Pieces – the decline of the genius who stopped trying
  • Dudley Moore: On the Rocks – from Hollywood superstar to unemployable actor – his tragic story of depression, insecurity and a devastating illness

Part Three: Final Acts

  • Mary Ure: Anger and After
  • Vivien Merchant: Betrayal
  • Jill Bennett: Love and Death
  • Ian Hendry: The Nearly Man
  • David Rappaport: Even Dwarfs Started Small
  • Charlotte Coleman: Forever Young
  • Sir Stanley Baker: The Outsider

Julian Upton

JULIAN UPTON has written on US and British film for publications such as Filmfax, Bright Lights and the Journal of British Cinema and Television. He is the author/editor of the Headpress books Fallen Stars and Offbeat: British Cinema’s Curiosities, Obscurities and Forgotten Gems. He lives in Leicestershire, UK.


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