Blackman in Jason and the Argonauts, 1963
22 August 1925 |
Plaistow, London, England
|Spouse(s)||Bill Sankey (m. 1946–54)(divorced)
Maurice Kaufmann (m. 1961–75)(divorced) (2 children)
Honor Blackman (born 22 August 1925) is a British actress, known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers (1962–64) and Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964). She is also famous for her role as the vengeful goddess Hera in the Ray Harryhausen, Charles H. Schneer, production of Jason and the Argonauts.
Life and career
Blackman was born in Plaistow, London. Her father Frederick was a statistician. She attended North Ealing Primary School and Ealing County Grammar School for Girls. She then trained as an actress at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, after her father thought, on her fifteenth birthday, that an appropriate birthday gift would be acting lessons. While attending the Guildhall School she also worked as a clerical assistant for the Home Office.
Blackman's film debut was a nonspeaking part in Fame is the Spur (1947). Other films include Quartet (1948) and So Long at the Fair (1950) with Dirk Bogarde, the RMS Titanic true story A Night to Remember (1958); the comedy The Square Peg (1958); Life at the Top (1965) with Laurence Harvey, The Virgin and the Gypsy (1970), and the Western films Shalako (1968) with Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot and Something Big (1971) with Dean Martin. She played the role of Hera in Jason and the Argonauts (1963). She also performed an overdub for an actress in the same film, providing the voice for the character of Medea. More recently, she has had small roles in the films Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) and Jack Brown and the Curse of the Crown (also 2001).
Bond film producer Albert R. Broccoli admitted that Blackman had been cast on the back of her success in The Avengers, despite the fact that the American audience had never even seen the programme. Broccoli said, "The Brits would love her because they knew her as Mrs. Gale, the Yanks would like her because she was so good, it was a perfect combination". Blackman was the first of two "Bond girls" older than the actor playing James Bond, and she was the oldest actress ever to play a Bond girl.
In 1981, she was in the London revival of The Sound of Music opposite Petula Clark, which opened to rave reviews with, at that time, the largest advance sale in British theatre history. She spent most of 1987 at the Fortune Theatre starring as the Mother Superior in the West End production of Nunsense. From 2005 to 2006, she toured the country as Mrs Higgins in My Fair Lady. Her show Word of Honor premiered in October 2006. In April 2007, she took over the role of Fraulein Schneider from Olivier Award-winning actress Sheila Hancock, in Cabaret at the Lyric Theatre in London's West End. She left the show at the end of September 2007.
In a 1965 episode of The Avengers, titled "Too Many Christmas Trees", John Steed received his Christmas cards, one of which was from Cathy. "A card from Mrs Gale!", Steed exclaims in delight. Then, reading the inscription, he says in a puzzled voice, "Whatever can she be doing at Fort Knox...?". It was an inside joke, as Blackman was filming Goldfinger at the time.
Blackman was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions, in December 1969 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in a TV studio dressing room, and in February 1993, when she was caught out by Michael Aspel during a 'mock' television interview.
In 1986, she had a role in "Terror of the Vervoids", a segment of the Doctor Who serial The Trial of a Time Lord. From 1990 to 1996 she appeared as Laura West on The Upper Hand. In 2003, Blackman took a guest role on Midsomer Murders as ex-racing driver Isobel Hewitt in the episode "A Talent for Life". In September 2004, she briefly joined the Coronation Street cast in a storyline about wife swapping. In 2007, she participated in the BBC TV project The Verdict, as one of 12 well-known figures forming a jury to hear a fictional rape case. The series was designed to explore the jury system. She was sworn in as a juror as "Honor Kaufmann".
A song she recorded with Patrick Macnee during 1964, "Kinky Boots", was a surprise hit, peaking at No.5 in 1990 after it was played incessantly by BBC Radio 1 breakfast show presenter Simon Mayo. After her appearance in Goldfinger, she recorded a full album of songs, entitled "Everything I've Got".
In 1983, she appeared as Juno in a special TV production of Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld.
On 6 July 2009, Blackman released a new single, "The Star Who Fell from Grace", composed by Jeff Chegwin and Adrian Munsey and compered a James Bond Prom as part of the "Welsh Proms" concert series.
She married twice: Bill Sankey from 1948–56, and the British actor Maurice Kaufmann from 1961–75, with whom she appeared in the slasher film Fright (1971). They adopted two children, Lottie (1967) and Barnaby (1968). Blackman has not remarried and has stated she prefers being single. She enjoys watching football. During the 1960s, Blackman practised judo at the famous Budokwai dojo for her roles as Cathy Gale in The Avengers and Pussy Galore in Goldfinger.
Honor Blackman is a member of the Liberal Democrats and previously the Liberal Party, campaigning for the party in the 1964 general election. She is a signed supporter of Republic, The Campaign for an Elected Head of State, the UK campaign to replace the monarchy with a republic. She declined a CBE honour in 2002. She publicly supported changing the British electoral system from first-past-the-post to alternative vote for electing members of parliament to the House of Commons in the Alternative Vote referendum in 2011.
In 2012 Blackman publicly criticised her Bond co-star Sean Connery for being a tax exile, saying, "I disapprove of him strongly now. Because I don't think you should accept a title from a country and then pay absolutely no tax towards it. He wants it both ways. I don't think his principles are very high."
- Fame is the Spur (1947) (film debut, uncredited)
- Quartet (1948) Paula
- Daughter of Darkness (1948)
- Diamond City (1949) Mary Hart
- A Boy, a Girl and a Bike (1949)
- Conspirator (1949)
- So Long at the Fair (1950)
- Green Grow the Rushes (1951)
- Delavine Affair (1954)
- The Rainbow Jacket (1954)
- Diplomatic Passport (1954)
- Breakaway (1955)
- The Glass Cage (1955)
- Suspended Alibi (1957)
- You Pay Your Money (1957)
- Account Rendered (1957)
- The Square Peg (1958) Leslie Cartland
- A Night to Remember (1958)
- Danger List (1959) (short)
- A Matter of WHO (1961)
- Serena (1962)
- The Avengers (1962) Cathy Gale (TV)
- Jason and the Argonauts (1963) Hera
- Goldfinger (1964) Pussy Galore
- The Secret of My Success (1965)
- Moment to Moment (1965) Daphne Field
- Life at the Top (1965)
- Shalako (1968) Lady Julia Daggett
- A Twist of Sand (1968)
- Kampf um Rom I (1968)
- Kampf um Rom II (1969)
- Twinky, also known as Lola (1969)
- The Virgin and the Gypsy (1970) Mrs Fawcett
- Fright (1971) Helen
- Something Big (1971)
- Columbo: Dagger of the Mind (1972) (TV)
- To the Devil a Daughter (1976)
- Ragtime Summer (1977)
- The Cat and the Canary (1978)
- Orpheus in the Underworld (1983) (BBC TV) Juno/Empress Eugénie
- The First Olympics: Athens 1896 (1984) (TV)
- Minder on the Orient Express (1985) (TV)
- Doctor Who (1986)
- The Upper Hand (1990) (TV)
- Tale of the Mummy (1998)
- To Walk with Lions (1999) Joy Adamson
- New Tricks (2005)
- Summer Solstice (2005)
- Hotel Babylon (2009)
- Hotel Caledonia (2010)
- Reuniting the Rubins (2010)
- I, Anna (2012)
- Cockneys vs Zombies (2012) Peggy
- Casualty (2013) Agatha Kirkpatrick
- By Any Means (2013)
- L P Everything I've Got (1964)
- Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Birth Index: 1916–2005 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.
- "BFI biodata". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- Honor Kaufmann company-director-check.co.uk. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- Hubbard, Frances. "A question of honor". Courier Mail. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- "'The Name is Bond' at Ealing Council online". Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- The Lady – England's Oldest Weekly Magazine for Women
- "James Bond multimedia | Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore)". Jamesbondmm.co.uk. 12 December 1927. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- "BBC report". BBC News. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- "Honor Blackman: Words from the wise" at timesonline.co.uk[dead link]
- "Golden girl – Honor Blackman profile at". Walesonline.co.uk. 4 July 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- "Doctor Who: The Lost Stories – The Children of Seth". Big Finish Productions. July 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
- Interview in Saga Magazine, October 2009
- "Honor Blackman Judo Interview". Retrieved 17 March 2010.
- "Our Supporters". Republic. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- "Benjamin Zephaniah 'airbrushed from Yes to AV leaflets'". BBC News. 3 April 2011.
- Farndale, Nigel (27 Aug 2012). "Why Honor Blackman still packs a punch". The Telegraph.
- Honor Blackman at the Internet Movie Database
- Honor Blackman Official Website
- Honor Blackman Theatre Appearances