John d Green photographed Shirley Anne Field for Birds of Britain on 23 March 1967 at his Kensington studio. She was 28 at the time.
He recalled the session vividly in a 1967 newspaper interview:
“Shirley Anne Field was a fantastic actress and so much fun to photograph. She had us a fits of laughter. Before I could even open my mouth, Shirley Anne dumped a small suitcase containing her clothes on the studio floor and said: “Get one thing right. I won’t take off my clothes in any circumstances. I just want to do head shots.” The most important thing was to start taking pictures. The way she spoke, I was frightened I was not going to get any pictures at all. The head shots, it goes without saying, did not take long. “Let me have a look at the dresses you’ve brought with you” I said. There was only one – a full length ball gown that looked rather like an African tribal wedding dress. It was horrific. I looked at her. I looked at the dress. I was desperate. “Couldn’t we just open the side at the seam a little bit?” She soon realised that in order to get a really effective picture it was necessary to use the dress in a different way from which the designer intended. She virtually made it into two pieces. Shirley Anne then began to go through poses that were an absolute knock-out. When she is in that kind of mood she is unbeatable as a model. She is one of the great Birds of Britain.”
Shirley Broomfield was raised in various children’s homes in the North of England and moved to London when she was 15 to train as a typist. She was spotted by a theatrical agent and appeared as an extra in films from 1955 but her breakthrough came when she was chosen by Laurence Olivier to star in The Entertainer (1960).
The same year she appeared in probably her best known role, opposite Albert Finney in the influential new wave film Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. In the 1970s she worked mainly in the theatre before returning to films and television both in the UK and the United States in the 80s.
In 1993 she appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs and reminisced about her friendship with John F. Kennedy and an ill-fated date with Frank Sinatra.