Jill Adams: Actress billed as 'Britain's Monroe'

A tall, striking blonde, Jill Adams provided good humour and a welcome touch of glamour to several films from the mid-Fifties. At the start of her film career, she was publicised as "Britain's Marilyn Monroe". It was hardly an accurate description, but the former model Adams made a stunning cover girl, featuring on the cover of the popular weekly Picturegoer twice, in 1954 and 1955, and she played in over 20 films in the space of a decade.

The James Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli is credited with having discovered her when she played a bit part in his production The Black Knight (1954), and she was soon playing larger roles, notable among which were her fine comic performance in the Launder-Gilliat black comedy The Green Man (1956), with Alastair Sim and George Cole, and her glamorous depiction of the "girl upstairs" in the comedy about barristers, Brothers in Law (1957), her role a deliberate echo of Monroe's in The Seven Year Itch.

She was born in London in 1930, the daughter of the silent-screen actress Molly Adair. Jill's New Zealand-born father, Arthur Siggins, had met the Irish-American Adair when she was on location in Algiers filming a spectacular version of A.E. Mason's adventure novel The Four Feathers (1921). Siggins, a former member of the Rhodesian police and an expert animal handler, worked on the film, and later wrote a book about the experience, Shooting with Rifle and Camera.

Jill was one of four children, and when she was a baby the family moved to New Zealand, though when she was six years old, they moved again, to Wales. Jill continued her education, after which she worked for four years on a farm. Her ambition was to become an artist, and she moved to London to pursue that career, taking work as a sales assistant, window dresser and secretary before finding that her poise and glamour could bring her modelling assignments – during the Second World War her face was used in a recruiting poster for the Wrens.

In 1951 she married an American sailor, Jim Adams, whose surname she adopted professionally, but though they had a daughter the marriage ended in 1953. The same year, Jill Adams had a part in a late-night stage revue, On with the New, starring Anthony Newley, and began taking bit roles in movies – dancing with Nigel Patrick in Forbidden Cargo (1953), appearing in the Arthur Askey comedy The Love Match (1954), and in Doctor at Sea (1955) with Dirk Bogarde.

She had one of her first substantial roles in the sprightly "B" movie One Jump Ahead (1955), in a rare villainous portrayal as a murderess who was once an old flame of a reporter (Paul Carpenter) who is usually "one jump ahead" of the police. Adams was one of Rex Harrison's seven wives in the sophisticated comedy The Constant Husband (1955).

The film was produced and directed by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, and the team then gave Adams possibly her best remembered role, in the often hilarious The Green Man, which starred Alistair Sim as an out-of-practice hitman given the task of assassinating politician Raymond Huntley. Adams was third billed as the fiancée of a BBC announcer (Colin Gordon), uniting with a vacuum salesman (George Cole) to foil the plot.

The Boulting Brothers were also champions of Adams, and she had a prominent role in their satire on army life, Private's Progress (1956), followed by the leading female role in Brothers in Law, a witty look at the legal system, in which a gauche new barrister (Ian Carmichael), and the cockily experienced barrister helping him (Richard Attenborough), become rivals for the affections of Adams.

At the peak of her acting career in 1957, Adams married Peter Haigh, the debonair presenter of radio's Movie-Go-Round and the founding co-presenter (with Derek Bond) of Picture Parade, a weekly television movie magazine that would evolve into the show presented for many years by Barry Norman.

Adams appeared with Attenborough again in The Scamp (1957), and was given star billing in an Australian movie, Dust in the Sun (1958), but it had limited distribution. In 1960/61 she featured in a television series, The Flying Doctor, based on the real-life activities of the Royal Flying Doctor Service serving the Australian outback.

Her career at this point seemed to lose direction. Death on My Shoulder (1958) and Crosstrap (1960) had been poor "B" movies, and her roles in Carry On Constable (1960) and Doctor in Distress (1963) were small. The Yellow Teddy Bears (1963) was an exploitation thriller (its US title was Gutter Girls), and her small role in Promise Her Anything (1965), starring Warren Beatty and Leslie Caron, was to be her last.

In the early 1970s, she and Haigh, whose radio and television career had also faded, moved to the Algarve in Portugal, where they ran the harbour-side Galeao Bar in Albufeira until their marriage ended in 1976. (Haigh died in 2001.) Adams, with a reputation for "fabulous" cooking, continued in the restaurant business with a new partner, Mike Johnson. She later moved to Lisbon with another partner, Alan "Buster" Jones. They then moved to Spain, but when Jones died, Adams returned to be with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter in Portugal.

Tom Vallance

Jill Siggins, actress and model: born London 22 July 1930; married 1951 James Adams (one daughter; marriage dissolved 1953), 1957 Peter Haigh (died 2001; one daughter; marriage dissolved 1976); died Clareance, Portugal 13 May 2008.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home