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Vintage Spotlight - Dame Barbara Windsor

In a week where we lost the national treasure who was Dame Barbara Windsor, I got to thinking about some of the great iconic British women who made waves in vintage fashion, music, TV and film. From high society to soap stars, Great Britain has produced some truly wonderful women with all manner of talents and aspirations. We have also lost so many of these legendary females in the last decade alone and of course most recently the lovely Dame Barbara. This week I take a closer look with my Vintage Spotlight at this iconic British woman and some of her earlier life.

Dame Barbara Windsor (1937 - 2020)

The daughter of a dressmaker and bus conductor, Barbara was a bright child with a sparkle in her eye and a love for the theatre. Starting to attend stage school in the 1950s, she began her acting career in pantomimes and dance shows before moving on to bigger and more accredited stage productions. In the 1960s Barbara made her TV debut before her first Carry On film in 1964 - one of her best known roles. Of course it’s safe to say that this little cheeky cockney pocket rocket in the tongue-in-cheek Carry On films is how many of us will remember her, with innuendos a plenty and undergarments flying off in all directions! It was an iconic British institution in itself.

Between 1964 and 1974, she appeared in a total of nine Carry On films, including Carry On Spying (1964), Carry on Doctor (1971), Carry on Camping (1969), Carry on Henry (1971) and Carry on Abroad (1972). She also co-presented the 1977 Carry On compilation titled That’s Carry On and was one of the last surviving regulars on the series.

You may not automatically consider Babs as a vintage fashion icon as most of her on-screen costumes were quite OTT (some may even say distasteful), but during the 50s, 60s and 70s she was one of the most beautiful British female celebrities and wore some absolutely beautiful vintage dresses, vintage outfits and vintage accessories. She had some truly stunning 1960s outfits that would look just as amazing today at the did back then.

She continued to work in both TV and film as well as in the theatres of the West End throughout the 70s and 80s and received some commendable review and accolades for her performances. Fast forward to 1994 and Eastenders welcomed her as the beloved character of Peggy Mitchell who she went on to play for over 1500 episodes.

In 2016 she was made a Dame in the New Years Honours for her services to both entertainment and charity. In 2018 her husband Scott Mitchell made a public statement to explain that Barbara was suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and had been since 2014. Along with her family, Barbara campaigned tirelessly for dementia charities despite her own suffering. In August this year it was reported that Dame Barbara had been moved to a care home and sadly on the 10th December 2020 she passed away aged 83. From comedy to musical theatre and soaps, Dame Barbara Windsor will be remembered as a true icon of stage and screen. She gave us a whole heap of laughs and smiles and left a legacy behind her to be proud of.

Until next time

Emma x

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