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Barbara Windsor (English Actress) Bio, Facts 

Barbara Windsor

Born name: Barbara Ann Deeks
Date of Birth: 6 August, 1937
Place of Birth: Shoreditch, London, United Kingdom
Nationality: English
Occupation: Actress
Years active: 1954–2017
Height: 1.5 m
Net worth: £9 million (2018)
Spouse: Scott Mitchell (m. 2000), Stephen Hollings (m. 1986–1995), Ronnie Knight (m. 1964–1985)
Parents: Rose Deeks, John Deeks
Television: EastEnders as Peggy Mitchell (1994–2010, 2013–2016)

Dame Barbara Windsor, DBE (born Barbara Ann Deeks; 6 August 1937), is an English actress, known for her appearances in the Carry On films and for playing Peggy Mitchell in the BBC One soap opera EastEnders. She joined the cast of EastEnders in 1994 and won the 1999 British Soap Award for Best Actress, before finally leaving the show in 2016.

Windsor began her career on stage in 1950 at the age of 13 and made her film debut as a schoolgirl in The Belles of St Trinian's (1954). She received a BAFTA Award nomination for the film Sparrows Can't Sing (1963), and a Tony Award nomination for the 1964 Broadway production of Oh, What A Lovely War!. In 1972, she starred opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the West End production of The Threepenny Opera. Between 1964 and 1974, she appeared in nine Carry On films, including Carry On Spying (1964), Carry On Doctor (1967), Carry On Camping (1969), Carry On Henry (1971) and Carry On Abroad (1972). She also co-presented the 1977 Carry On compilation That's Carry On!.

Other film roles include A Study in Terror (1965), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), and as the voice of Mallymkun -The Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016).

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to charity and entertainment.

Early life
Windsor was born in Shoreditch, London, in 1937 (her birth was registered in Stepney), the only child of John Deeks, a costermonger, and his wife, Rose (née Ellis), a dressmaker. Windsor is of English and Irish ancestry. She passed her 11-plus exams gaining a place at Our Lady's Convent in Stamford Hill. Her mother paid for her to have elocution lessons, and she trained at the Aida Foster School in Golders Green, making her stage debut at 13 and her West End debut in 1952 in the chorus of the musical Love From Judy. She took the stage name Windsor in 1953, inspired by the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Her first film role was in The Belles of St Trinian's released in 1954. She joined Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, coming to prominence in their stage production Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be and Littlewood's film Sparrers Can't Sing (1963), achieving a BAFTA nomination for Best British Film Actress. She also appeared in the film comedy Crooks in Cloisters (1964), the fantasy film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and in the sitcoms The Rag Trade and Wild, Wild Women.

Carry On

Windsor at the unveiling of the Joan Littlewood statue at Theatre Royal Stratford East, 4 October 2015Windsor came to real prominence with her portrayals of a 'good time girl' in nine Carry On films. Her first was Carry On Spying in 1964 and her final Carry On... film acting role was in Carry On Dick in 1974. She also appeared in several Carry On... television and compilation specials between 1964 and 1977.

One of her most iconic scenes was in Carry On Camping in 1969, where her bikini top flew off during outdoor aerobic exercises. In classic Carry On style, exposure is implied but little is in fact seen.

From 1973 to 1975 she appeared with several of the Carry On team in the West End revue Carry On London! During this time she had a well-publicised affair with her co-star, Sid James.

She was strongly identified with the Carry On films for many years, which restricted the variety of roles she was chosen to play later in her career.

Windsor starred on Broadway in the Theatre Workshop's Oh, What a Lovely War! and received a 1965 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She also appeared in Lionel Bart's musical flop Twang! (directed by Joan Littlewood) and in the musical Come Spy with Me with Danny La Rue.

In 1970 she landed the role of music hall legend Marie Lloyd in the musical-biopic Sing A Rude Song. In 1972 she appeared in the West End in Tony Richardson's The Threepenny Opera with Vanessa Redgrave. In 1975, she toured the UK, New Zealand and South Africa in her own show, Carry On Barbara!, and followed this with the role of Maria in Twelfth Night at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

In 1981 she played sex-mad landlady Kath in Joe Orton's black comedy Entertaining Mr Sloane at the Lyric Hammersmith, directed by her friend Kenneth Williams. She reprised the role for a national tour in 1993.

When EastEnders was launched in 1985, the producers said they would not cast well-known actors (Wendy Richard being a rare exception). Windsor has said that she would have liked to have been part of the original cast.

By 1994 this policy was relaxed, and Windsor accepted an offer to join EastEnders. She took over the role of Peggy Mitchell (who was previously a minor character played by Jo Warne in 1991), for which she received the Best Actress award at the 1999 British Soap Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 British Soap Awards.

Waxwork of the iconic Peggy Mitchell displayed in BlackpoolA debilitating case of the Epstein-Barr virus forced a two-year absence from the role between 2003 and 2005, although Windsor was able to make a two-episode guest appearance in 2004. She rejoined the cast full-time in the summer of 2005.

In October 2009, Windsor announced she was to leave her role as Peggy Mitchell, saying she wanted to spend more time with her husband. On 10 September 2010 her character left Albert Square after a fire destroyed the Queen Victoria pub, of which she was the owner.

In July 2013, it was announced that Windsor was to return for one episode, which aired on 20 September 2013. She again returned for a single episode on 25 September 2014, and made a further appearance for EastEnders 30th anniversary on 17 February 2015. In February 2015, Windsor, along with Pam St. Clement (Pat Evans), took part in EastEnders: Back to Ours to celebrate 30 years of EastEnders. Windsor and St. Clement looked back on some of their characters' most dramatic moments.

In November 2015, Windsor secretly filmed a return to EastEnders, which was shown in January 2016. After this, it was confirmed that the character would be killed off later in the year. This was Windsor's decision, as she said that as long as Peggy was alive, she would always be drawn back to playing her. Her last appearance aired on BBC One on 17 May 2016.

Later years
Windsor provided the voice of the Dormouse in Walt Disney's live action adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (2010), directed by Tim Burton. Windsor appeared in the pantomime Dick Whittington at the Bristol Hippodrome over the Christmas/New Year period of 2010/2011. In September 2010, it was announced that Windsor would be fronting a TV campaign for online bingo site Jackpotjoy as the Queen of Bingo. She appeared as herself in one episode of Come Fly with Me in January 2011.

From 2011 onwards, she regularly did presenting work for BBC Radio 2 music and showbusiness history programmes. She reprised her voice role of the Dormouse in the film Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016).

In May 2017, Windsor appeared in a cameo role as herself in the BBC television film, Babs, written by EastEnders scriptwriter Tony Jordan. It showed Windsor in the 1990s as she prepares to go on stage and recalls events from her life, including her childhood, marriage to gangster Ronnie Knight, and her roles in the Carry On films.

Relationships and personal life

Windsor has married three times, but has no children.

  1. Ronnie Knight (married 2 March 1964, divorced January 1985)
  2. Stephen Hollings, chef/restaurateur (married 12 April 1986 in Jamaica, divorced 1995)
  3. Scott Mitchell, former actor and recruitment consultant (married 8 April 2000)

Before her marriage to Ronnie Knight, she had a one-night stand with notorious East End gangster Reggie Kray and a longer affair with his older brother Charles Kray. Between 1973 and 1976, whilst married to Knight, she had a much publicised affair with Carry On co-star Sid James. Another of Windsor's Carry On co-stars, Kenneth Williams, accompanied her and Knight on their honeymoon.

In her 2000 autobiography, All of Me, Windsor talks about her five abortions, the first three of which took place in her twenties and the last when she was 42. She has said she never wanted children as a result of her father rejecting her after her parents' divorce.

Windsor was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours. In August 2010, she was given the Freedom of the City of London, and in November 2010, she was honoured by the City of Westminster at a tree planting and plaque ceremony.

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to charity and entertainment.

Windsor had a friendship with the late Amy Winehouse and in 2012, she became a patron of the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

In November 2014, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of East London.

On 10 May 2018, Windsor’s husband Scott Mitchell revealed that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in April 2014. In January 2019, Mitchell and some of Windsor's former co-stars from EastEnders announced that they would be running the London Marathon in aid of a dementia campaign. Mitchell said that Windsor’s health and mental state has been deteriorating and there have been moments where she no longer recognises him.

On Windsor’s 82nd birthday in August 2019, she and Mitchell became ambassadors for the Alzheimer’s Society. On the same day, Windsor made a video plea to prime minister Boris Johnson to ‘fix’ dementia care.

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Categories: 1937 births,Actresses awarded British damehoods,Actresses from London,Alumni of the Aida Foster Theatre School,British monarchists,English stage actresses,English television actresses,English television personalities,English soap opera actresses,English film actresses,English people of Irish descent,Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire,People with Alzheimer's disease,People from Harringay,People from Shoreditch,British comedy actresses

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