Spotty dress picture put Pat in the spotlight
Blackpool's famous Girl in the Spotty Dress is to be buried in the frock which made her famous.
Pat Stewart became an overnight celebrity when she accidentally flashed her knickers to a photographer on Blackpool promenade.
She became known as the girl in the spotty dress and it helped launch her showbusiness career.
The great-grandmother died of heart failure at the age of 83, but will be buried in the dress which set her on the road to stardom.
Her daughter Rachel, 47, said: “She wanted to wear her famous spotty dress at her funeral and her wish will be carried out.”
Ex-Tiller Girl Pat was working in the resort when the picture was taken.
The famous image, taken on a blustery day, showed two girls sitting on seafront railings with Pat’s dress being caught by a gust of wind.
The charming picture – taken by Bert Hardy for Picture Post – became a cherished image as a shapshot of carefree postwar Britain.
When Pat posed with her friend Wendy she had no idea the image would become one of the most famous of the 20th century.
In fact, she had forgotten all about the picture until 2006 when the photograph was featured on TV’s the One Show.
A woman called Norma Edmondson believed she was the girl pictured, but Pat came forward to claim the credit.
Pat recalled how she and Wendy were chosen to pose for the picture while working as Tiller Girls in Blackpool in 1951.
She was just 17 and it was her first season with the famous dance troupe.
Pat, who grew up in Featherstone, Yorkshire, said: “The dress was one my mother had given me to go away with. It was white with brown spots.
“One day, when we had finished the show at North Pier, Wendy and I were called to the stage door.
“I remember saying to Wendy, perhaps we had been discovered by Hollywood.”
Picture Post had launched a photo competition in a bid to boost falling circulation.
They met Bert the next morning on the Prom and he took a number of snaps, including the famous one, on his Box Brownie camera.
Pat said: “Bert would not let me hold onto the railings, and there was a 12ft drop.
“He would, however, let me hold onto Wendy, who was holding onto the railings.
“When the wind blew up my dress, I couldn’t use my hand to push it down, because I didn’t dare let go of Wendy. Of course as the wind blew he snapped the picture.”
The picture had to be airbrushed because Bert believed Pat’s knickers were showing.
However, she revealed: “I was actually wearing a one-piece swimsuit underneath my dress and that was what could be seen.
“But Marilyn Monroe eat your hear out. I beat you to it.”
Last year Pat returned to Blackpool for the first time in 65 years to sign copies of her autobiography, charting a career which at one point saw her working with comedy legends Laurel and Hardy as well as Morecambe and Wise, Joan Collins and Benny Hill.
She even met the notorious East End gangsters The Kray twins during the 1960s.
She married stand-up comedian Johnny Stewart and the couple settled near Barry in South Wales.