Happy Birthday Helen!

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Today is the birthday of one of the true and evergreen stars of Bollywood – Helen. She can be said to have truly started the concept of the item number, even though in her day it may have been called the cabaret number. She brought glamour, flair and carefree joy to the role which she repeated successfully in many films over a fifteen year period.

Helen Richardson was born in 1939 to an Anglo-Indian father and a Burmese mother. She first shot to prominence in the magnificent film noir Howrah Bridge in 1958 and from that point onwards never looked back, providing her unique contribution to movies such as China Town, Cha Cha Cha, Teesri Manzil, Jewel Thief and many others, including Sholay.

Her career hit a bad patch in the 1970s and her personal circumstances deteriorated but she was rescued by Salim Khan to whom she committed to being his second wife. She is the stepmother of Salman, Arbaaz and Sohail Khan and she has an adopted daughter Arpita. Her remarkable career and influence on the development of Bollywood was chronicled in a magical Merchant Ivory documentary film called Queen of the Nautch Girls.

Happy Birthday to a star, who we may never forget!

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