Helen Ann Richardson (born 21 November 1938), popularly known as only Helen is a Burma-born Indian film actress and dancer, working in Hindi films. She has appeared in over 700 films,and is often cited as the most popular nautch dancer of her time.She was the inspiration for four films and a book.She is the second wife of veteran writer-producer
Helen Ann Richardson was born on 21 November 1938 in Rangoon, Burma to an Anglo-Indian father and Burmese mother.Her father’s name was George Desmier. She has a brother named Roger and a sister name Jennifer. Their father died during the Second World War.
The family then trekked to Mumbai in 1943 in order to escape from the Japanese occupation of Burma. Helen told Filmfare during an interview in 1964, “we trekked alternately through wilderness and hundreds of villages, surviving on the generosity of people, for we were penniless, with no food and few clothes.
Occasionally, we met British soldiers who provided us with transport, found us refuge and treated our blistered feet and bruised bodies and fed us. By the time we reached Dibrugarh
in Assam, our group had been reduced to half. Some had fallen ill and been left behind, some had died of starvation and disease. My mother miscarried along the way. The survivors were admitted to the Dibrugarh hospital for treatment.
Mother and I had been virtually reduced to skeletons and my brother’s condition was critical. We spent two months in hospital. When we recovered, we moved to Calcutta”.She quit her schooling to support her family because her mother’s salary as a nurse was not enough to feed a family of four.In a documentary called Queen of the Nautch girls, Helen said she was 19 years old in 1957 when she got her first big break in Howrah Bridge.