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Priscilla Lawson (March 8, 1914 – August 27, 1958), born Priscilla Jones Shortridge, was an American actress best known for her role as Princess Aura in the original Flash Gordon serial (1936).

Priscilla Lawson
Priscilla lawson.jpg
Priscilla Lawson as Princess Aura
Priscilla Jones Shortridge

(1914-03-08)March 8, 1914
DiedAugust 27, 1958(1958-08-27) (aged 44)
OccupationFilm actress
Years active1935-1941
Spouse(s)Gerald Lawson (m. 1932-1933; his death)
Alan Curtis
(m.1937-1940; divorced)
Parent(s)Elisabeth (née Hess) and Elmer Shortridge


Early yearsEdit

Born in St. Paul, Indiana, Lawson was the daughter of Elmer Shortridge, a railroad yard foreman and machinist, and his wife, née Elizabeth Hess.[1]


Lawson was a professional model[2] by her early twenties and was named Miss Miami Beach in 1935, after which she was employed as an Earl Carroll chorus girl at the Miami Casino. This gained her a contract with Universal Studios, which used her in a variety of small roles. However, in 1936 she was cast in the serial Flash Gordon as the voluptuous daughter of the villain, Ming the Merciless. Princess Aura's rivalry with Dale Arden for Flash Gordon's affection was one of the centerpieces of the serial and gained Lawson cult figure status.

Roy Kinnard wrote in Science Fiction Serials: A Critical Filmography of the 31 Hard SF Cliffhangers; With an Appendix of the 37 Serials with Slight SF Content, "Lawson's notable physical assets were responsible for incurring the wrath of censors" in the filming of Flash Gordon.[3] Co-star Jean Rogers told him that censors ordered retakes of Chapter 1 of the serial with Lawson "wearing slightly less revealing garb."[3]

Her screen career ended in 1941.

Personal lifeEdit

Lawson was married to:

  • Gerald A. Lawson (1906-1933), a furniture salesman, on 8 March 1932; he died the following year of croupous pneumonia.
  • Alan Curtis (1909-1953), an American movie star, in November 1937. They divorced in 1940.[4]

Post-career lifeEdit

After her second marriage ended, Lawson enlisted in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. An unverified rumor claims she lost a leg in an accident while serving in the Army. Another version is that she lost a leg in a 1937 car crash. However, her Flash Gordon co-star Jean Rogers denied that Lawson had lost a leg, and it was also rejected in a biographical review in an Indianapolis journal.

In later life, she managed a stationery shop in Los Angeles, California, and worked for two pottery companies as a finisher.


On August 27, 1958, Lawson died at 44 in Monrovia, California, due to cirrhosis and upper gastrointestinal bleeding caused by a duodenal ulcer. She was interred at Live Oak Memorial Park in Monrovia.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1935 His Night Out Hatcheck Girl Uncredited
1935 The Great Impersonation Maid Uncredited
1936 Dangerous Waters Valparaiso Bar Girl - Back to Wall Uncredited
1936 Don't Get Personal Bridesmaid Uncredited
1936 Sutter's Gold Native Girl Uncredited
1936 Flash Gordon Princess Aura Serial
1936 The Phantom Rider Dance-Hall Girl Serial, Uncredited
1936 Yours for the Asking Minor Role Uncredited
1936 Straight from the Shoulder Minor Role Uncredited
1936 Wives Never Know Laboratory Assistant Uncredited
1936 The Big Broadcast of 1937 Minor Role Uncredited
1936 Rose Bowl Florence Taylor
1936 The Accusing Finger Hat Check Girl Uncredited
1936 College Holiday Student / Phone Operator Uncredited
1937 Internes Can't Take Money Nurse Uncredited
1937 King of Gamblers Grace Uncredited
1937 Double Wedding Felice
1937 The Last Gangster Girl in Dive Uncredited
1938 Arsène Lupin Returns Switchboard Operator Uncredited
1938 The First Hundred Years Mary Brown - Lynn's Secretary Uncredited
1938 The Girl of the Golden West Nina Martinez
1938 Test Pilot Mabel
1938 Three Comrades Frau Brunner - Sanatorium Clerk Uncredited
1938 The Toy Wife Dark Woman Uncredited
1938 Heroes of the Hills Madeline Reynolds
1938 Three Loves Has Nancy Gertie - at the Party Uncredited
1939 The Women Hairdresser #1 Uncredited
1941 Billy the Kid Bessie - Barmaid Uncredited, (final film role)


  1. ^ "Father of Actress, Miss Lawson, Dies". The Oshkosh Northwestern. Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Associated Press. March 15, 1939. p. 10. Retrieved April 15, 2017 – via  
  2. ^ "Typical Cinderellas". Ironwood Daily Globe. Michigan, Ironwood. January 8, 1937. p. 14. Retrieved April 15, 2017 – via  
  3. ^ a b Kinnard, Roy (1998). Science Fiction Serials: A Critical Filmography of the 31 Hard SF Cliffhangers; With an Appendix of the 37 Serials with Slight SF Content. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 9780786437450. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Not Wanted". Pottstown Mercury. Pennsylvania, Pottstown. Associated Press. March 14, 1940. p. 13. Retrieved April 15, 2017 – via  
  5. ^ Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. (2 volume set). McFarland. p. 430. ISBN 9781476625997. Retrieved 15 April 2017.

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