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Carol Cleveland

In days gone by, actors playing a leading role on television for the first time were 'introduced'. I was introduced in 1963 when I played the leading lady, an American millionaires, opposite Carlos Thompson (a Brazilian heart throb) in, 'The Sentimental Agent'. The photo on the left shows me behind the camera but I had no aspirations in that direction as I was thoroughly enjoying being in front of it. I was lucky I'd only been out of drama school, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, for less than a year and I'd already landed my first T.V. lead. This had a lot to do with my dual citizenship. I had no visa problem.

I was born in London. My father was an actor for a while and my mother a starlet at the film studios. They met on a film set and married soon afterwards. But my mother remarried after the war to an American air force man, which took us to the U.S.A.

I had the usual Yankee upbringing... stepping over snakes and horny toads on my way to primary school in San Antonio, Texas before moving to southern California where I attended Jr. High and then Pasadena High School. I immediately joined the 'Entertainers Club' and, while there I also rode on a float in the famous annual 'Tournament of Roses' parade.

Showbusiness was obviously in the blood... as I took to the stage at an early age, performing with the local children's drama society while training to be a ballerina. I also joined a teenage modelling agency through which I was entered into various 'Beauty Pageants' (there were a lot of those in California!). I was playing leading roles in Christmas shows while, at the same time collecting Beauty Queen titles such as...'Miss Teen Queen' and 'Miss California Navy'.

In 1960 I returned to London with my family where we bought a house in Maida Vale. I auditioned for R.A.D.A. and was awarded a grant with which to enrol the following year. Meanwhile, I killed time by entering Beauty Contests. I was 'Miss Butlins' and 'Miss Paddington Shopping Queen' (classy titles, what?!). But I did also win a heat and was entered into the 'Miss England' contest!

In 1961 I went to R.A.D.A. where, for the next two years, I was in the company of some of our finest actors, such as Sir Anthony Hopkins, David Warner and Simon Ward. I hung out with my good friend, Lynda La Plante (then known as Lynda Titchmarsh!), John Hurt and my first love, Ian McShane. Like them, I started working soon after graduating, mainly playing American roles. I did however feel it necessary to have a second string and continued modelling for quite some time when 'resting' between jobs. I covered everything; fashion, beauty, catwalk, advertising and glamour... but not, I hasten to add... ever nude! I do however admit to one rather ridiculous topless fashion shoot very early on. During a quiet period, I even became one of the first London Playboy Bunny's! was all good experience... and it did land me a film role, as a 'Salt and Pepper Girl' working with Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford!

My career progressed steadily and I was playing lead and support roles in programs such as 'Doctor at Large', 'Man in a Suitcase', various T.V.plays, sit-com episodes and two B.B.C. series, 'The Lotus Eaters' and 'One-Upmanship', along with Cult series like 'The Saint' and 'The Avengers'. I did a fair bit of film work, working alongside people like David Niven, Shirley MacLaine, Peter Sellers and was even directed by Charlie Chaplin! In time I did more and more theatre work too, both in and out of London and the U.K. My most memorable West End experience was playing 'Rusty', the wife of Lenny Bruce in the first wonderful, but sadly short lived, production of 'LENNY' at the Criterion Theatre in 1975.

Outside the U.K. I thoroughly enjoyed my three month Derek Nimmo tour around the Far/Middle East. I walked part of the Great Wall of China, floated in the Dead Sea and rode horseback at dawn around the Pyramids.... fantastic! And then there was the awesome experience of playing to 8000 screaming fans a night at The Hollywood Bowl.

In 1969 I was cast to be 'the girl' in a few episodes of a new B.B.C. T.V. series called, 'Monty Pythons Flying Circus'. The rest is history and largely thanks to those six guys, I haven't stopped working.


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