Cilento in 1954
5 October 1933|
Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia
|Died||6 October 2011
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
|Cause of death||Liver cancer|
(m. 1956; div. 1960)
(m. 1962; div. 1973)
(m. 1985; d. 2001)
|Children||2, including Jason Connery|
|Parent(s)||Sir Raphael Cilento
Cilento was born in Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia. Her parents, Sir Raphael Cilento and Phyllis, Lady Cilento (née Phyllis Dorothy McGlew), were both distinguished medical practitioners in Queensland. Her paternal great-grandfather was Italian. Her maternal grandfather was merchant and exporter Charles Thomas McGlew.
At an early age she decided to follow a career as an actress and, after being expelled from school in Australia, was schooled in New York while living with her father. She later won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and moved to England in the early 1950s.
After graduation, Cilento found work on stage almost immediately and was signed to a five-year contract by Sir Alexander Korda. Her first leading role in a movie was in the British film Passage Home (1955), opposite fellow Australian Peter Finch.
She soon secured roles in British films and worked steadily until the end of the decade. In 1956, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for Helen of Troy in Jean Giraudoux's Tiger at the Gates.
She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Tom Jones in 1963 and appeared in The Third Secret the following year. However, she allowed her film career to decline following her marriage to actor Sean Connery, the second of her three husbands and to whom she was married from 1962 to 1973. They had one son, the actor Jason Connery. She had previously had a daughter, Giovanna, with her first husband. Cilento stated that she was beaten unconscious by Connery in their hotel room during the filming of The Hill.
In 1985, Cilento married playwright Anthony Shaffer, who wrote the script of The Wicker Man; she met him when she appeared in that film in 1973, and he joined her when she returned to Queensland in 1975.
Cilento continued working as an actress, in films and television. In the 1980s, she settled in Mossman, north of Cairns, where she built her own outdoor theatre, named "Karnak", in the tropical rainforest. The venture allowed her to participate in experimental drama.
In 2006, Cilento released her autobiography, My Nine Lives.
In 2007 Cilento signed with agent Bronwen Gault Management in Sydney, and started preparations for a one-woman theatrical tour of Australia based on the life of Peggy Guggenheim. Gault arranged one of Cilento's last photographic sessions. The tour never took place.
|1956-1960||Andrea||Giovanna (Gigi) Volpe (10 December 1957-)|
|1962-1973||Sir Sean Connery (1930-)||Jason Connery (11 January 1963-)|
|In 1975 Shaffer made his home in Queensland with Cilento. They married in 1985.
Cilento was Shaffer's third wife; he had two daughters from a previous marriage.
Diane Cilento died of liver cancer at Cairns Base Hospital on 6 October 2011, the day after her 78th birthday. She is survived by both her children. A collection of items from her estate was donated to the Queensland University of Technology and is housed in the library.