SNARK WEEK: Woeful Woman Wednesday – Lesley-Anne Down


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Lesley-Anne Down is an actress who has starred in a surprising number of historical costume movies. She’s probably very talented and a lovely person, let’s get that out of the way.

It’s not the least bit her fault that she did a number of historical movies and TV shows during the 1980s, and hey, mad props that she’s still working today — but I can’t help but notice that she’s the connecting thread amongst a TON of smokey eyeshadow and Dynasty hair.

So with full knowledge that that was the era, and hey, blame the costume designers, makeup artists, and really the people in charge, let’s take a wander through Lesley-Anne’s AquaNetted glory:


Countess Dracula (1971)

Essentially Erzabet Bathory as vampire.

Countess Dracula (1971)

“Ilona,” who apparently has a lot of hair.


Pope Joan (1972)

The (mythical) story of a woman who impersonated a man and became pope in the “medieval era.”

Pope Joan (1972)

She plays Cecelia with a modicum of back-combing.


Upstairs, Downstairs (1973-5)

The classic upper-class and servants story set in early 20th-century London and where Down appears to have really taken off. She plays Georgina Worsley, a relative who comes to live with the fam after her parents die in the Titanic sinking. She was a nurse during WWI, then turns party girl in the 1920s, only to settle down and marry.

Upstairs, Downstairs (1973-5)

It’s makeup-y, but not too bad considering this is for 1970s TV.

Upstairs, Downstairs (1973-5) Upstairs, Downstairs (1973-5)


A Little Night Music (1977)

The film version of the Sondheim musical, set around the turn of the century. Down plays the virginal wife during a farcical country house weekend.

A Little Night Music (1977)

Virginal but with winged eyemakeup!

A Little Night Music (1977)

Not bad, minus the wiggy wig!


The Great Train Robbery (1978)

Where it starts getting good: in the 1850s, she’s the mistress of an upper-class thief and joins in his heist of, you guessed it, a train.

The Great Train Robbery (1979)

Ah, the 1850s, that era of heavy makeup, where nary a chemise existed…

The Great Train Robbery (1978)

I do hope the makeup artist was paid by the layer!

The Great Train Robbery (1979)

That’s a REALLY ugly dress.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982)

She’s Esmerelda, the gypsy lady to Anthony Hopkins’s hunchback! Insert head necklaces and shitty hair!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982)


The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982)



The Last Days of Pompeii (1984)

Summed up by the title, but is Chloe really a classical name?

The Last Days of Pompeii (1984)

The Romans loooooved that blush-in-the-cheek-hollow thing!

The Last Days of Pompeii (1984)


The Last Days of Pompeii (1984)

I’m unclear, is she supposed to be sexy?


North and South (1985)

Boobs are everywhere in this tale of northerners and southerners before, during, and after the Civil War! Lesley-Anne Down plays Madeline, the kindly, blushing southern belle trapped in a loveless marriage to an abusive husband and secretly in love with Patrick Swayze’s mullet.

North and South (1985)

Because demure southern belles were allll about getting the tits out and the smokey eyeshadow.

North and South (1985)

They were also TOTALLY into polytaffeta, lurex lace, and getting the tits out for daywear.


North and South, Book II (1986)

The story continues. Don’t ask me.

North and South, Book II (1986)

That’s a lot of hair for the 1860s.


Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III (1994)

Why, I ask you?

Heaven & Hell- North & South, Book III (1994)

The very picture of proper womanhood!

Heaven & Hell- North & South, Book III (1994)

Looks like she suffers like Scarlett O’Hara!


Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus (1996)

Okay, probably not historical, but hilarious nonetheless! As “Morgana,” who, I am guessing, is a witch.

Beastmaster III- The Eye of Braxus (1996)

Somewhere Ann Wilson of the band Heart is proud of that hair.


Justice (2017)

Alright, still working! Go Lesley-Anne! “A U.S. Marshal seeking justice for his brother’s murder defends a small town from a corrupt mayor and his henchmen with intents to revive the civil war.”

Justice (2017)

Glad to see she’s sticking with the hair down.


Coming Soon: Of God and Kings

“Prima Ballerina Annalise is invited to dance La Traviata in Venice. Her risqué past comes to haunt her as she finds love in the ballet.”

Of God and Kings

A bit heavy on the hair, but not bad!


Which is your favorite of Lesley-Anne Down’s perms?


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22 Responses

  1. Maryanne Cathro

    You are missing a treat, you Amedicans, she was absolutely fabulous in the One and Only Phyllis Dixey (1978). Sadly it is one of those movies impossible to find.

  2. SarahV

    Ya know….

    You ladies really should do a piece about The Great Train Robbery. It’s peak Victorian, and shows a mix of all sorts social classes. Plus, it’s actually a pretty amusing movie.

    Having said all that, I kinda have a soft spot in my heart for Lesley Anne Down, for some reason. MY elder sister was suuuuuuuuuuper obsessed with North and South, and write fan letters to like the entire cast, and Ms. Down wrote a back (had had written and sent back) a very sweet response.

    • B

      It’s a good movie, although some of Lesley Ann’s costumes have a “I went shopping at Frederick’s of Hollywood in the 80s!” vibe

  3. Rey

    Chloe actually is a classical name! There’s a Greek novel from the 2nd century AD called Daphnis and Chloe. Doesn’t help the costumes though.

    • Nzie

      I was going to say this. :-) And it seems probable to me that there could be a Greek woman in Pompeii. Maybe as a slave? Or just through migration within the Roman Empire.

  4. Jay

    Darn. Now I’ve got to look up Beastmaster III. NO WAY that was actually filmed in 1996. Who’s up for betting this is one that sat on the shelf for about 8 – 10 years before someone said, “Oh, heck, we might as well just release it!” ? [pun intended]

      • Jay

        Oooo… good point! Seeing more images, the guys have early 90s hair. Hmmm… Beastmaster 2 has a 1991 date, so maybe III was actually made in 93/94?

  5. picasso Manu

    My fav is Acetate & Polyester book III, hands down; Not the perm, but that orange dress! faints… Sad thing, it could be okay with just about any other fabric… Well, okay may not be the word, but sure better!

  6. thedementedfairy

    Upstairs Downstairs of course. One of the good old costume dramas I grew up on, and [make up aside] pretty good for its day. I think. lol

  7. MoHub

    Great Train Robbery because, IIRC, there’s a scene in which she shaves her legs with a straight razor.

  8. Jamie Jo

    the really sad thing is actors have NO control over what the sadistic costumers and directors put them in. I know I’ve seen actors cringe with disgust while putting on their costumes, knowing it was baboon butt ugly and wrong. but the good ones still attempt to work with it, the great ones can make you over look the stupid they’re stuck wearing. ah, a directors “vision” is sometimes a very terrifying thing.

  9. Nzie

    AH things are starting to make sense now about N&S! I checked out wikipedia, learned that the future holds a lot of “vowing revenge” by Brunette and others, and that my vague memories are most likely from book 2 episode 2.

    Poor Lesley Ann. She does look good in the most recent one, and I bet she’s glad not to have crazy 80s hair.

  10. Mrs. D

    What is that pic at the top from? She totally looks like Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in that one!

  11. Damnitz

    Hey! Why you missed “The princess and the swordsman”? That’s really Lesley-Anne Down in all her glory! ;-) And extra low budget stupid movie!