Blackman in Jason and the Argonauts, 1963
22 August 1925 |
Plaistow, West Ham, Essex, England, UK
Bill Sankey (m. 1946–54)(divorced)
Honor Blackman (born 22 August 1925) is a British actress, widely known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers (1962–64), Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964), and Shalako (1968). She is also noted for her role as the goddess Hera in Jason and the Argonauts (1963).
Life and career
Blackman was born in Plaistow, Essex. Her father Frederick was a statistician. She attended North Ealing Primary School and Ealing County Grammar School for Girls. For her 15th birthday, her parents gave her acting lessons and she started training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1940. While attending the Guildhall School, Blackman 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), based on a novel by Jean Rhys, So Long at the Fair (1950), in which she appeared with Dirk Bogarde, A Night to Remember (1958), an account of the RMS Titanic; 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.
Blackman played Hera in Jason and the Argonauts (1963), which was partially animated. In the same film she also performed an overdub, providing the voice for the character of Medea. She had roles in the films Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) and Jack Brown and the Curse of the Crown (also 2001).
Albert R. Broccoli said that Blackman was cast opposite Sean Connery in the James Bond films based on her success in the British TV series, The Avengers. He knew that most American audiences would not have 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".
During the 1960s, Blackman practised judo at the famous Budokwai dojo. This helped her prepare for her roles as Cathy Gale in The Avengers and Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. She was the first of two "Bond girls" who were older than the actor playing James Bond, and the oldest actress to play a Bond girl.
In 1981, Blackman appeared in the London revival of The Sound of Music opposite Petula Clark. The production opened to rave reviews and the largest advance sale in British theatre history to that time. She spent most of 1987 at the Fortune Theatre starring as the Mother Superior in the West End production of Nunsense.
Blackman returned to the theatre in 2005, touring through 2006 with a production of My Fair Lady, in which she played Mrs. Higgins. She developed a one-woman show, Word of Honor, which premiered in October 2006. In April 2007, Blackman took over the role of Fraulein Schneider 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 Christmas cards, one of which was from Cathy. "A card from Mrs Gale!", Steed exclaims in delight. Reading the envelope, 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 co-starred with Richard Basehart as a married pair of Shakespearean actors who commit a homicide in the Columbo episode "Dagger of the Mind," appearing with Peter Falk. In December 1969 and in February 1993, Blackman was taken by surprise as the subject of This Is Your Life.
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. She was one of 12 well-known figures who made up 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".
Blackman's recording with Patrick Macnee of "Kinky Boots" (1964), was a surprise hit. In 1990 it peaked at No.5 after being 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, Blackman sang 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. In it she compared a James Bond prom as part of the "Welsh Proms" concert series.
Blackman married twice: Bill Sankey from 1948–56.
Blackman has not remarried and has stated she prefers being single. She enjoys watching football.
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 has 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.
"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
- Bridget Jones's Diary (film) (2001)
- 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
- "Honor Blackman Judo Interview". Retrieved 17 March 2010.
- "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, Saga Magazine, October 2009
- "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