Is there a Carry On fan who would not recognise Valerie Leon instantly? One of the best and best loved Carry On girls ever to grace the series.
Valerie’s wide and varied career has encompassed nearly every major genre in British and international entertainment and any devotee of British Movie history would name her as one of the icon figures in it’s history.
Valerie Made her West End debut in Funny Girl with Barbara Streisand and her Theatre experience was increased by numerous pantomimes and Summer seasons. Working steadily in Theatre throughout her career Valerie also took major roles in She’s Done It Again! (opposite Brian Rix), Play It Again Sam!, Don’t Tell The Wife! (opposite Les Dawson), Darling Mr London (opposite David Jason), Black Coffee (with fellow Carry On actor Patrick Cargill), On The 20th Century, Sweet Charity and Dracula.
Recent appearances as the Wicked Queen in Snow White and a forthcoming (November 1997) guest appearance in the Stravinsky Opera The Rake’s Progress have reaffirmed Valerie’s reputation as a superb character actress.
As a television star Valerie appeared in all but every major series on offer, her many small screen roles include The Avengers story Whoever Shot Poor George Oblique Stroke XR40, Up Pompeii (With Frankie Howerd), The Persuaders, My Wife Next Door, The Goodies, The Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show, Rings On Their Fingers, the award winning If There Weren’t Any Blacks, You’d Have To Invent Them, The Persuaders, Scoop, Let There Be Love, Special Branch, Roy’s Raiders, Nobody Is Norman Wisdom, Whodunnit and The Train Now Standing.
In amongst all of the above Valerie found time to appear in over a dozen movies, make seven Carry On appearances and become a national figure as the stop-at -nothing-to-get-her-man Hai Karate girl.
The impressive role call of movies include Smashing Time, The Man Who Had Power Over Women, The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer, No Sex Please, We’re British!, The Revenge Of The Pink Panther, Queen Kong and The Wild Geese.
Add to this the dual lead role in one of Hammer’s most critically acclaimed and literate horrors Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb and don’t forget that Valerie is also one of the few actresses to charm two 007s, Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me and Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again.
It is easy to realise why Valerie achieved and maintained celebrity status and that is without the Carry On appearances!
The first was a blink and you’ll miss it non speaking appearance as a Hospitality Girl in Carry On...Up The Khyber, progressing onto a store assistant in one of Charles Hawtrey’s classic introduction sequences in Carry On Camping (and also made Sid James go weak at the knees just by saying ‘Toothpaste’). Writing to Peter Rogers, Valerie stated that her experience had increased and would like to be considered for a larger role in the next Carry On. Peter replied saying that as long as it was only her experience that had increased he would gladly cast her again! Valerie was back for Carry On Again Doctor, this time getting Jim Dale hot under his Harley Street collar as Deride Filkington-Battenmore, the secretary who knew nothing about shorthand.
Darkest Pinewood beckoned for Valerie’s largest Carry On role to date, Leda the queen of the Lubi-Dubis in Carry On Up The Jungle, worshipping Charles Hawtrey and keeping Sid James firmly in his place.
Who else could place the glamorous film star Jane Darling in Carry On Matron but Valerie, giving birth to triplets in the back of an ambulance with the aid of a dragged up Kenneth Cope and a drugged up Terry Scott.
Carry On Girls gave Valerie the chance to shine in the central role of Bernard Bresslaw’s meek and mild girlfriend Paula Perkins who becomes a sex kitten to enter the Miss Fircombe competition. This was to be Valerie’s last appearance in a Carry On movie.
Valerie also appeared as the serving wench in the 1972 TV special Carry On Christmas (known as Carry On Stuffing on video), this seasonal reminder of the huge popularity of the series sadly gives Valerie little to do but it underlines her status as one of the major players in the Carry On team.