Caroline Munro: Hammer Horror And Bond Beauty, Then And Now
Caroline Munro, the British actress who was both a Hammer Horror mainstay and a Bond Girl, was a top onscreen seductress of the '70s. Munro, who'd risen to prominence as a model in Lamb's Navy Rum advertisements, wasn't in the most films, but she left an impression on fans who still flock to her today at conventions, her status bolstered by her turn in the Ray Harryhausen adventure The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973).
For some people, the world just falls into place. For Caroline Munro, one time Bond girl, life just found a way of working itself out. In her own words, “I never expected to become an actor. I’ve loved every minute of it and I’ve been very lucky.” As a struggling art student with dyslexia, Munro lacked confidence and direction. Then one day a photographer friend took pictures of her school and unbeknownst to her sent them to a big newspaper in London. Her pictures just so happened to win a photo contest that sent her down the road of success. She became the premiere actress for Hammer Horror films and sent navy recruitment numbers skyrocketing as the top model for Lamb’s Navy Rum.
Caroline Munro Was The Face And Figure Of Lamb's Navy Rum
Tom Cruise’s Top Gun famously spiked the Navy recruiting numbers during the film’s run in theaters. They even put recruiting offices in theaters to catch as many inspired young men as possible. Other than Cruise, Caroline Munro probably did more for the Navy -- well, Lamb's Navy -- than any other person. For years, Munro’s jaw-dropping figure was plastered on billboards next to a bottle of Lamb’s Navy Rum and slogans like “Join the Lamb’s Navy. It’s where the action is.”
For Munro’s father, seeing a 30-foot tall billboard of his daughter pulling a knife out of her skimpy wet suit was, “a bit of a shock.” Nevertheless, Munro enjoyed the work, “I loved the job. We had shoots in all kinds of exotic places,” and, unfortunately, Cornwall. “I remember being in the sea in the winter. Not a good day.”
Munro Was In A (Quasi-) Bond Movie Early On
Eventually, her modeling work scored her an acting gig, albeit a non-speaking role, in the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967). The film featured an all-star cast including Peter Sellers, Orson Welles, and Woody Allen, which was a parent-pleaser. “My mum was thrilled. She loved Woody Allen’s work.” That gave her a taste for acting which spurred her on to find more roles in movies. Naturally, she had to start small.
Her first speaking role came in the comedy western, A Talent For Loving (1969). “They wanted someone who looked Mexican. I had to speak with an accent.” The movie’s commitment to Hispanic sounding characters was pretty funny since the story was “My father has to marry me off because of the family curse – we love too much.” And by love too much, Munro meant the family’s “ancestral nymphomania.”
Bond Girl And Hammer Time
Munro became the only contract actress for Hammer Horror due to studio head James Carreras’ love for the Lamb's Navy Rum billboards. She reached a turning point after starring in Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) with Christopher Lee. It was after that experience that, she says, “I realized I wanted to be an actor. It made me get serious and study for it.”
In 1978 she turned down the role of Ursula in Superman in order to be a Bond girl in The Spy Who Loved Me. Even though she didn’t get to play the main Bond girl (that honor went to Barbara Bach), she enjoyed her time on set and working with Roger Moore. “Nobody has a bad word about Roger, he was a true gentleman and a very clever actor. He had a way of putting the cast and the crew at ease.” The two even shared a background in modeling knitwear, “I knew there was something about him I liked. His knitwear was very classic, really.”
Even though she had to be on the wrong end of a Bond missile, Monro loved being a part of the iconic series. “The roles are getting better for women. When you think about it, the most iconic Bond girl is Judi Dench.”
Scantily Clad But Never Nude
Over the years, Munro was offered many roles and jobs that would require her to pose nude. Despite the many lucrative offers, Monro turned them all down. That included an offer from Playboy. She passed on The World Is Full of Married Men, Force 10 from Navarone, and Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde rather than show off her naked figure on the silver screen.
She passed on these projects long before she had two daughters. During her lengthy career, she only experienced one uncomfortable scenario that she rather not discuss. “I walked in, and I ran out. He was with his girlfriend, but there was something wrong. Something I didn’t care for. I just made my excuses and ran. It was an instinctive thing.”