Helen is a Burma-born Indian actress, she was born on 21 November 1938, in Yangon, Burma. She mostly appeared in Hindi and worked in more than 700 films in her film career. She is also an excellent dancer. She is known as the “Golden Girl” of India.
Helen was born as Helen Ann Richardson in Burma. Her father’s name was George Desmier, he was an Anglo-Indian and her mother’s was a Burmese, who was a nurse. Helena has a brother, Roger and a sister, Jennifer. Her father, George died during the Second World War. The Family then moved to Mumbai in 1943. Helen discontinued her study to support her family because her mother’s salary as a nurse wasn’t enough.
Helen first appeared in the film Shabistan and Award in 1951 as a chorus dancer, her family friend Cukoo, helped her to get the job. Then she started working regularly as a solo dancer in several films such as Alif Laila and Hoor-e-Arab.
Helen got her first break in 1958, at the age of 19, while performing the song “Mera Naam Chin Chin Chi” in the film Howra Bridge, under Shakti Samanta’s direction and she started getting offers. Initially, Geeta Dutt sang for her a lot. Then Bollywood playback singer Asha Bhosle also sang for frequently.
In 1965, Helen appeared in Gumnaam as a supporting actress alongside Manoj Kumar, Nanda, and Pran, under the direction of Raja Nawathe. For her excellent performance in the film, she won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. Next, she appeared as a rape victim in Shakti Samanta’s Pagla Kahin Ka alongside Shammi Kapoor, Asha Parekh in 1970.
Popular writer Salim Khan helped Helen to get some roles in the films such as Javed Akhtar: Immaan Dharam, Don, Dostana, and Sholay. She again appeared as a supporting role in Mahesh Bhatt’s film Lahu Ke Do Rang in 1979 alongside Vinod Khanna, Shabana Azmi. For Helen’s excellent performance in the film, she again won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. She won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.
In 1983, Helen officially retired from films. But she made some special appearances in several movies such as Khamoshi: The Musical, Mohabbatein, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.., etc. In 2009, Helen was selected for Padma Shri award.
After retiring from films, Helen performed on stage in London, Paris, Hong-Kong. She also appeared in some documentary films. She also appeared in a TV reality dancing show “Dancing Queen” as a Judge.
Helen married Salim Khan, a Bollywood screenplay writer, in 1981. Salim Khan was already married and a father of four children. All the four children have a great bond with her.
In 1980, Salim Khan and Helen adopted a baby girl, Arpita Khan. Arpita had lost her mother in an accident. He brought up in Khan family, and later she was married to Aayush Sharma. In 2016, Arpita gave birth to a baby boy, Ahil Sharma.
Helen’s brother Roger died in the 1980s and her sister Jennifer lives in Mumbai.
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