WCW: Claire Bloom


A star from the golden age of Hollywood as well as a lauded veteran of the London and New York stage, Claire Bloom’s work features quite a few fine frock flicks. She’s been in so many historical movies and TV shows, I honestly couldn’t find photos for all of them! But here are some of the most memorable.



The Lady Anne in Richard III (1955)

1955 Richard III

Gorgeous hennin!

Claire Bloom, Richard III (1955)

Giving Laurence Olivier‘s Richard what for.

Claire Bloom - Richard III (1955), photo by Ronald Grant

Photo by Ronald Grant.



Barsine in Alexander the Great (1956)

Claire Bloom, Alexander the Great (1956)

The film wasn’t successful, but she’s still gorgeous here.

Claire Bloom, Alexander the Great (1956)

Richard Burton played Alexander — he & Bloom had a long affair (he was married at the time), & Burton later said she was one of the great loves of his life.



Roxane in Producers’ Showcase: Cyrano de Bergerac (1955)

Claire Bloom, Cyrano de Bergerac (1955)

She was in many theatrical productions filmed for TV, starting in the ’50s.



Juliet in Producers’ Showcase: Romeo and Juliet (1957)

Claire Bloom, Romeo and Juliet (1957)

A major theater critic said Claire Bloom was “the best Juliet I’ve ever seen.”



Queen Victoria in Robert Montgomery Presents: Victoria Regina (1957)

Claire Bloom, Victoria Regina (1957)

I think this is a promo pic from the TV show? Claire Bloom portrayed Queen Victoria over a 60-year span.



Katya in The Brothers Karamazov (1958)

Claire Bloom, The Brothers Karamazov (1958)


Claire Bloom, The Brothers Karamazov (1958)

Based on the Dostoevsky novel, of course, & nominally set in the 1870s. I rather like these 1950s versions of bustle gowns.



Bonnie Brown in The Buccaneer (1958)

Claire Bloom, The Buccaneer (1958)

Set during the War of 1812, & she goes from pretty…

Claire Bloom, The Buccaneer (1958)

…to wild!



Anna Karenina in Anna Karenina (1961)

Claire Bloom, Anna Karenina (1961), photo by Almay

Photo by Almay.

Claire Bloom, Anna Karenina (1961)

Not bad costumes for a 1960s TV movie.



Cathy in Wuthering Heights (1962)

Claire Bloom, Wuthering Heights (1962)

However, this TV movie’s costumes look completely MEH. Photo by Getty Images.



Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House (1973)

Claire Bloom, A Doll's House (1973)

This photo might be from the stage version of the Ibsen play or the stage version was filmed for TV. Not sure, but it’s Claire Bloom.



Ella in “An Imaginative Woman” in Wessex Tales (1973)

Claire Bloom, Wessex Tales (1973)

A Thomas Hardy anthology.

Claire Bloom, Wessex Tales (1973)



Katharine of Aragon in The BBC Television Shakespeare: Henry VIII (1979)

1979 Henry VIII

The costumes look great in this BBC series of Shakespeare’s plays. Claire Bloom featured in many of them.

1979 Henry VIII

A strawberry blonde Catherine! Kendra approves.



Gertrude in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980)

Claire Bloom, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980)

Continuing in the BBC Shakespeare series, with Patrick Stewart as Claudius.



Lady Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited (1981)

Brideshead Revisited (1981)

Claire Bloom said of this role in one of her memoirs:

“I still find it puzzling when I am told I played a manipulative and heartless woman; that is not how I saw her. Lady Marchmain is deeply religious, and her dilemma includes trying to raise a willful brood of children on her own, while instilling them with her rigid observance of the Catholic code. Sebastian is both an alcoholic and a homosexual, and from her point of view, he lives in a state of mortal sin. She has to fight for his soul by any means in her power, with the knowledge that her efforts may lead to his destruction. A born crusader, the Marchioness confronts her difficult choices head on; her rigidity of purpose, which I don’t in any way share, is understandable in context. The aspect that rings most true is her sense of being an outsider, a Catholic in Protestant England. Not such a leap from being a Jew in Protestant England as one would imagine.”

Brideshead Revisited (1981)

She was rigid yet regal in this role.

Brideshead Revisited (1981)

You could feel how her adult children were still ruled by her, whether they liked it or not.



Queen in Cymbeline (1982)

Claire Bloom, Cymbeline (1982)

Great ruff!



Constance in The Life and Death of King John (1984)

Claire Bloom, The Life and Death of King John (1984)

More Shakespeare, this time medieval.



Fanny Nightingale in Florence Nightingale (1985)

Claire Bloom, Florence Nightingale (1985)

A small role as the title character’s sister.



Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst (1986)

Claire Bloom, The Belle of Amherst (1986)

Another filmed version of a theatrical production.



Joy Davidman in Shadowlands (1986)

Shadowlands (1986)

A TV movie based on a romance between Davidman & author C.S. Lewis in 1950s (not to be confused with the movie of the same name starring Debra Winger). Claire Bloom won Best Actress BAFTA for this performance.



Czarina Alexandra in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)

Claire Bloom, Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)

With Omar Sharif as Czar Nicholas II. Photo by Imago Images.



Lady Delamere in Beryl Markham: A Shadow on the Sun (1988)

Claire Bloom, Beryl Markham: A Shadow on the Sun (1988)

A romanticized TV biopic of female aviator & adventurer Markham, set in the 1930s-40s.



Lady Emma Darlington in The Lady and the Highwayman (1988)

Claire Bloom, The Lady and the Highwayman (1988)

A schlocky Restoration-period flick with some surprisingly good costumes & actors!



Queen Mary in The King’s Speech (2010)

Claire Bloom, The King's Speech (2010)

The queen mother to Colin Firth‘s George VI in this film.



Maggie in Miss Dalí (2018)

Claire Bloom, Miss Dalí (2018)

A biopic of painter Salvador Dalí’s sister Anna Maria (played by Siân Phillips, left), which flashes back from the end of her life in the 1980s to her childhood. I think Claire Bloom (on the right) is in the later part, but I’m including it anyway.



Aunt Mary in Summer of Rockets (2019)

Claire Bloom, Summer of Rockets (2019)

A TV drama set in the U.K. during the Cold War, but her dress doesn’t look all that 1950s to me.



What’s your favorite of Claire Bloom’s many frock flick roles?

17 Responses

  1. Donna

    It’s probably not appropriate (era wise) for this blog, but check out her Mary Quant designed wardrobe in the Robert Wise directed “The Haunting,” 1963. Outstanding!

  2. JB

    I’m sorry to say something negative in my first comment on this site, but Claire Bloom is not pictured in your entry on Shadowlands–that’s Debra Winger, who you also mentioned in this post as being in the later, 1993, movie of the same name.

    • Boxermom

      No, I believe that’s the correct photo; if you look closely, that’s Joss Ackland as C.S. Lewis. :)

    • MJ

      Can’t be, because Lewis is definitely not Anthony Hopkins in that pic, and he played Lewis in the big-screen version opposite Debra Winger.

  3. Roxana

    I remember Bloom in the Bucaneer, I was so pleased that for once the spirited brunette got the guy instead of the bland blond.

  4. M.E. Lawrence

    Another of my mother’s favorites. I would love to see C.B. in “A Doll’s House.”

    • hsc

      There were two adaptations of the play released around the same time– one starring Jane Fonda and David Warner, directed by Joseph Losey, and the one with Bloom and Anthony Hopkins, directed by Patrick Garland. I saw both, and much preferred the Bloom version, which stayed truer to Ibsen (Losey took HUGE liberties and rewrote a lot) and had a better performance than Fonda gave. Unfortunately, the Losey/Fonda version is the more widely seen (it actually premiered on network TV before a theatrical run) and the Bloom version is hard to find (i’m not sure if it’s been released on home video).

  5. LouisD

    And she was strangely cast as Merle Oberon’s mother in the TV movie loosely based on Merle’s life, Queenie (1987), (with Mia Sara)

    • hsc

      QUEENIE (a roman a clef written by her nephew Michael Korda) refers to Merle Oberon’s secret mixed-race parentage, but the truth was way more complicated and tragic, as a family member eventually found out.

      Not only was Oberon’s mother, Charlotte Selby Thompson, of mixed white, Sri Lankan and Maori heritage– which was considered at the time to be something to be concealed– she wasn’t actually her birth mother, but Oberon’s grandmother.

      Oberon’s birth mother was actually Charlotte’s 12-year-old daughter Constance, who was passed off as Oberon’s older half-sister. And Constance herself was the product of Charlotte having been raped at 14 by an Anglo-Irish plantation foreman named Selby. (I’m not sure if Charlotte married Selby afterward, or just took his name.)

      Years later, Constance’s son– who had always believed himself to be Oberon’s nephew– did research and found that he and his siblings were actually Oberon’s younger half-siblings.

      From what I’ve read, I don’t know who Oberon’s biological father was– but under the circumstances, hopefully it wasn’t actually Arthur O’Brien Thompson, the man who passed himself off as her father.

  6. SarahV

    I am not ashamed to admit that I loved The Lady and the Highwayman when it mysteriously showed up on CBS one Sunday night.

    • hsc

      CBS had done well with a previous Barbara Cartland adaptation, A HAZARD OF HEARTS, on their CBS SUNDAY MOVIE a little over a year earlier, and this was a followup from the same production team.

      The real mystery is why Cartland’s title wasn’t retained as a selling point for her fans.

      But I guess CUPID RIDES PILLION was considered too confusing, and the production replacement title DANGEROUS LOVE sounded too much like a steamy contemporary thriller– so it became THE LADY AND THE HIGHWAYMAN, which sort of just spelled it out.

      The major reason I remember this movie is my grandmother had mercifully passed away that morning after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer, and I was staring at the TV that evening trying to stop thinking about it for a couple of hours.

      Definitely not the way someone wants to view any film, even a Barbara Cartland TV-movie adaptation.

  7. MJ

    Having seen a lot of her earlier work, I’m tempted to just pick one of them, but she was a superb Queen Mother in The King’s Speech.


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