I always felt I was more than just a busty blonde with a giggle and a wiggle.
Barbara Windsor is forever enshrined in the national psyche as a cheeky Cockney, the blonde bombshell star of that quintessentially British creation, the Carry On film. Windsor's career in showbusiness has spanned an incredible 50 years--from her first appearance in pantomime at the age of 12, to soap-star matriarch behind the bar at the Queen Vic in Eastenders.
Windsor (born Barbara Deeks; the name-change came in 1952, Coronation year, and was "particularly apt") grew up torn between her rowing parents who nevertheless instilled in her a passion for film-going. Aware that her looks and cheeky air would get her work, Windsor secretly deplored being eternally typecast as a "bimbo in white stilettos" and saw herself instead as a "theatre comedy actress". Her comic talent and sheer capacity for hard work led her, after years of damp dressing rooms and end-of-the-pier shows, to an enduring status as an icon of sorts, her ultimate accolade being made an OBE in 2000.
Yet Windsor is almost as famous for her private life as she is for her public achievements, and she is exceptionally candid about her affairs--most notoriously with fellow Carry On star Sid James, though there was an occasion over some salt-beef sandwiches with jazzman Ronnie Scott ("I felt he had taken me on more for my bosom than for my singing"). There were also her abortions, her friendships with some of the biggest stars of the 60s--Kenneth Williams and she were so close that he came on her honeymoon--and she has always held a rather dubious affection for the Krays. Her first husband, Ronnie Knight, became Britain's most wanted man after his involvement in a robbery, her second sold his story to the tabloids after their marriage ended; she has recently married her third husband after a turbulent relationship. "I'd always been a grafter, not a whinger; always got out there and done it when the chips were down", writes Windsor and we never expect anything less of her.
The enjoyable and slightly scandalous All of Me is written in the best British tradition of self-deprecation, hard work, laughter and tears--with a touch of sauciness thrown in. Just like a Carry On film, in fact. --Kate Weaver
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
All Of Me was reviewed in the Express 1/9 'Barbara Windsor emerges from these pages as a personality both strong and sunny' Sunday Telegraph