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Born in Indianapolis on 8th March 1914 as Priscilla Shortridge, Lawson started out as a professional model until she came to the notice of Universal who put her under contract as a film actress.
Although her leading role in the successful Flash Gordon gained her a lot of attention, not least because of the way her voluptuous figure was displayed in a variety of outfits which were considerably daring for the time, it was to be the exception in an otherwise low-key film career spent mostly in uncredited bit parts. The character of Princess Aura was not required for the second Flash Gordon serial in 1938, Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, but returned for the third and final serial in 1940, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. It is not clear as to whether Lawson was unwilling to reprise her role, wasn't asked or was simply unavailable, but Aura was one of several roles that was recast, with Shirley Deane taking over the role.
Lawson's film career was effectively curtailed when she enlisted for the Women's Army Corps during World War II. Details of her life from this point onwards become somewhat murky, but it is said she later ran a stationery shop in Los Angeles. Sadly, she died on August 27th 1958 at the relatively early age of 44 due to complications from a duodenal ulcer.
Her striking performance as Princess Aura continues to find new fans to this very day, ensuring that her name will live on for many years to come.