12 November 1943 |
Hampstead, London, England, UK
|Years active||1967 - Present|
|Spouse(s)||Michael Mills (1974–1988) (his death); two children|
Her father was a director of a textile company, and her mother, who trained at RADA, ended her acting career in order to become a full-time mother. She is the eldest of four privately educated children. After leaving school, she became a trainee fashion buyer at Harrods, before playing truant one day to go to an audition which led to her becoming a chorus girl, and then appearing with Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl at The Prince of Wales Theatre in London.
Leon appeared in several of the Carry On films and has been a Bond girl twice: in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Never Say Never Again (1983). Other supporting appearances include Revenge of the Pink Panther, The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (as the secretary Tanya), a hotel receptionist in The Italian Job, and a callgirl in No Sex Please, We're British, alongside fellow Carry On actress Margaret Nolan. The 1971 Hammer horror film Blood from the Mummy's Tomb offered Leon a rare lead role, as a reincarnated Egyptian queen.
On television, Leon is probably best remembered for her part as a tall buxom woman driven wild by a small and puny man wearing Hai Karate aftershave, in a series of commercials for the product. She also appeared in The Saint, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Up Pompeii!, The Avengers, Space: 1999, The Persuaders, and in The Goodies comedy episode "It Might as Well Be String".
Leon was married to the BBC's Head Of Comedy, Michael Mills from 1974 until his death in 1988. The marriage produced two children, a boy, Leon, born in 1975 and a girl, Merope, born in 1977, who is a journalist on The Guardian newspaper and currently editor of the Weekend supplement.
Appearances in reference works
- Paul, Louis (2008). "Valerie Leon". Tales From the Cult Film Trenches; Interviews with 36 Actors from Horror, Science Fiction and Exploitation Cinema. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. pp. 164–171. ISBN 978-0-7864-2994-3.
- Smashing Time (1967)
- Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968)
- Zeta One (1969)
- A Promise of Bed (1969)
- Carry On Camping (1969)
- The Italian Job (1969)
- Carry On Again Doctor (1969)
- All the Way Up (1970)
- Carry On Up the Jungle (1970)
- The Man Who Had Power Over Women (1970)
- The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970)
- Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971)
- Carry On Matron (1972)
- No Sex Please, We're British (1973)
- Carry On Girls (1973)
- Can You Keep It Up for a Week? (1974)
- The Ups and Downs of a Handyman (1975)
- Queen Kong (1976)
- The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
- The Wild Geese (1978)
- Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
- Strangers (1982) (TV Series)
- Never Say Never Again (1983)
- A Neutral Corner (2006)
- The Green Green Grass (2007) (TV Series)
- Official website
- Valerie Leon at the Internet Movie Database
- Valerie Leon at HorrorStars
- Audio interview at BBC Wiltshire