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Moore was the subject of Peter Drakes seminal 'crick art' masterpiece: The Rest Day.

The short life of cricket's first sex siren

PDCC remembers Mandy Moore, the actress whose name will forever be synonymous with Britain's golden age of sexploitation cinema.

Born in 1947, Moore had an unremarkable upbringing. Her parents were neither caring nor cruel. They gave her food, sent her to school and encouraged her to sleep at night. She enjoyed skipping but was frightened of clackers.

Her mother remembers her as an injury prone child who liked to pretend she was Marilyn Monroe: "She would recite lines from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes whilst standing atop a makeshift platform made from rotten planks, marbles and soap. It would invariably collapse and she would disappear into the debris mid performance. I just thought she was going through a difficult stage".

picture of Moore relaxing on the set of The Milkybar Kid
A young Moore relaxes on the set of The Milkybar Kid.

She left school at fifteen and became a well known face on British television starring in several commercials - most memorably as the Milkybar Kid's injured sister.

Moore was considered too mature to play children by the time she was seventeen and the television work dried up. Fortunately her jugs were getting bigger and bigger and she was able to establish a new fan base. But breaking pottery records would be a short-lived career as she was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1964.

According to her mother: "It got to the stage where the seizures were so violent that she was breaking clay pigeons faster than she could make them. The Magnificent Seven would have struggled to keep up with her".

The illness necessitated a career change so she became a competitor in a beauty pageant for epileptic teenage rebels. She got off to a shaky start but was ultimately crowned Miss Fit 1965.

picture of Playfair Club sign

More titles would follow. She entered a contest for beauty queens who were bad at snooker and became Miss Cue 1966.

The following year she took part in a competition for beautiful women who incorrectly attribute well known phrases. In doing so she added Miss Quote 1967 to her list of successes.

Later that year she married the notorious East End villain, slum landlord, and owner of the infamous Playfair Club, Harry Gripper. The Club was a popular haunt for umpires, scorers, printers and groundsmen. It was also a little out of step with the surrounding 'swinging London' scene.

Gripper resolved to modernise and tasked his dyslexic wife with promoting the venue as a gambling club. An enthusiastic Moore attempted to maximise the potential of the building's immense 19th century façade by emblazoning the message 'Gamblers Admitted Free' in neon lights that could be seen from practically anywhere in Soho.

But a spelling error proved costly - a throng of walkers clutching maps, torches and water bottles refused to leave the Club on the grounds that they had the right to roam.

picture of Gripper and Moore
Gripper and Moore in happier times at the Playfair Club in 1968.

The problem was sorted out and before long the Playfair Club was a hit with rock stars, gangsters, and the glitterati of the entertainment world. Gripper wasted no time in putting Moore to work on the tables.

But she had no aptitude for carpentry, so became a croupier. Before long she had made friends with many luminaries of the time including Brian Epstein, Keith Moon, Arthur Pickwicket, and Dickie Funn.

Moore revelled in the attention of the rich and famous; and Gripper complained about her endless affairs. But it was all too late - her privileged proximity to wealth and power had fuelled her desire for personal advancement.

She was particularly interested in foreign, economic and constitutional affairs. The couple had little in common and divorced in 1971.

Most of Moore's admirers departed - fear of Gripper and the flimsiness of celebrity friendships took care of that. Those that remained sought to take advantage of her fragile financial circumstances.

picture of The Bedsore Twins (1976)
The Bedsore Twins (1976)

Visible only to patrons peering through a small hole, she performed in a factual adult drama about a 17th century Member of Parliament and chronicler of many of London's most important historical events.

Pepys Show was a modest hit in 1972, but more significantly introduced her to veteran British sex comedy director, Ernie Handles.

Horse racing was Handles' speciality and Moore very soon became his leading lady. She would go on to star in four of his films including the inappropriately titled Flat Chest Racing (1973), The Heavy Petting Shop (1974), Cunninglingfield (1974) and Good Wood (1975).

Handles made Moore a star of sorts but more significantly introduced her to the actor and director Walter Less who had returned from an extended spell in Italy.

picture of Bernie Barker in 1978
Bernie Barker in 1978

Less had recently made his directorial debut and in doing so discovered a mainstream market for cricket themed sexploitation films. He was convinced that Moore was perfect for his current project and offered her the leading role.

In the Bedsore Twins (1976), Moore sizzled as a randy undercover nurse who cajoles two bone idle brothers out of their beds and back into the Surrey CCC First XI.

The film was a hit and Less wasted no time in casting her in his next skin-flick. In Umpire Strangeglove and The Happy Hookers (1977), Moore played a brothel madam who corrupts a deviant umpire into determining the outcome of a Gillette Cup semi-final.

Audiences loved her; and so did Less. But the pain of unrequited love created friction and he was bitterly hurt when Moore signed a three picture deal with Less imitator and rival sixploitation director, Bernie Barker.

Not even the star power of Moore could compensate for the shoddy sets, tasteless close-ups, and lack of attention to detail that defined Barker's "Lord's Trilogy": The Disgrace Gates (1978), The Mound Stand (1978), and Father Play Time (1978).

picture of Full Toss (1982)
Full Toss (1982)

Moore resolved to patch things up with Less and she was readily forgiven. The reunion ensured that the decade ended well for both: Nun for £50 (1979), Sticky Wicket (1979), and You're In Next (1979).

The actress would never again work for another director and made a further five movies with Less: Two to Cum (1980), Pull Shot (1980), Giving Headingley (1981), Tease CCB (1981), and Full Toss (1982).

Many observers envied her success and glamorous lifestyle but few were aware just how damaging those formative years in Soho would prove to be. She had acquired a fatal attraction to the underworld, its conditional excesses, and the gangsters who ruled with seeming impunity.

Moore attempted to earn favour by offering herself as a holiday consultant to organised criminals.

Those keen to emulate Ronnie Biggs wasted little time in signing up for 'Train Capers'; and were equally quick to demand their money back when they were given a one way ticket to Stevenage and a jar of pickles.

Crime weary villains in need of comfort and tranquillity were keen to experience the 'Eastern Spa Break'; and eager to complain when they returned battered and bruised from a weekend in a Bethnal Green boxing ring.

picture of X pen

Moore apologised for the misunderstanding but the damage had been done. She reimbursed those that demanded it and hid from those that did not.

She tried hard but failed to sell her only remaining items of value: two hundred O pens, and an equal number of X pens she had bought for 'Wild Game Week' - a never-to-eventuate noughts and crosses tournament hosted by Jack Wild.

One of these pens was used to write the cryptic note that was found next to her lifeless body on the 18th of September 1982: "Cover me well and spare no X pens".

The very same pen had been used to inflict the fatal wound that pierced her heart.

Her passing made headlines at the time and rumours abounded about the cause of death. She had been romantically linked to criminals, lawmakers, and judges; and some people suspected foul play. The coroner fuelled speculation by passing an O pen verdict.

Mandy Moore was 35 years old.