Dame Barbara Windsor was known for her humorous personality and her acting abilities. Unfortunately, the film and television star died on December 10, 2020, six years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In death, she’s keeping her name in the news with the auctioning off of an iconic costume piece for charity.
A staple of the Carry On film franchise
Barbara Windsor first appeared as Daphne Honeybutt in 1964’s Carry On Spying. She went on to star in more of the Carry On films throughout the next decade, and even appeared in eight episodes of the Carry on Laughing! television show.
One of her more iconic roles was as Babs in 1969’s Carry on Camping. During one scene, Windsor’s character is attending an outdoor exercise class when her bikini bra flies off. The film crew was able to pull off the stunt by having an off-screen assistant tug off the bra with a fishing rod.
The scene was so iconic that it followed Windsor around for the remainder of her career, which continued until 2017. A still from Carry on Camping was included at her funeral service, accompanied by her quote: “That picture will follow me to the end.”
Auctioned off for charity
The chartreuse cotton-toweling bikini, which still has fishing line stitched to it, was rescued from a bin at a costumier’s stock clearance. According to the Kerry Taylor Auction House, it’s likely that duplicates were commissioned, but this is the only one to have survived.
The sale was part of the auction house’s Vintage, Antique Textile & Passion for Fashion sale. Auctioneer Kerry Taylor said they’d received a lot of interest in the bikini from both Carry On fans and those who loved the Dame. All proceeds from the swimsuit’s sale will go to the Alzheimer’s Society.
“During her long career, she was renowned for her down-to-earth nature, great sense of humor, and superb acting ability,” Taylor said. “She was a true professional. It seems very apt that a bikini that caused her so much embarrassment during the filming will now go to such a good cause, as Barbara herself sadly suffered from this disease.”
Sold for nearly 10 times more than estimated
The bikini’s sale drummed up a bidding war between online and telephone buyers. While initially estimated to sell between £800 and £1,200, it ended up going to an American buyer for £9,500.
“It’s a touching tribute to Barbara to think any item associated with that famous scene will raise money to help people living with Alzheimer’s,” said her husband, Scott Mitchell. “I’d say it was fitting — but it flew off… So it wasn’t!”
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Kate Lee, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, shared her excitement over the sale: “Dame Barbara Windsor inspired so many when she spoke out about her dementia diagnosis and we are so incredibly grateful to have had her husband Scott’s unwavering support — what they achieved for people with dementia has been awe-inspiring.
“This bikini is an iconic item from an iconic lady,” she concluded.