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James Bond's Pussy Galore: Honor Blackman Stories And Biography

Entertainment | August 22, 2020

Left: Honor Blackman in 'Goldfinger,' 1964. Right: Blackman in an undated publicity photo. Sources: RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images; eBay

"My name is Pussy Galore" -- that's how we meet Honor Blackman in Goldfinger (1964). "I must be dreaming," says James Bond (Sean Connery). The femme fatale, a pilot who leads a team of all-female flying aces known as Pussy Galore's Flying Circus, tells Bond, "You can turn off the charm. I'm immune."

Pussy Galore was not your typical Bond Girl -- in the book by Ian Fleming, she's a lesbian. In the movie, Honor Blackman played her as extremely uninterested, although she does later succumb to 007's charm -- it's a Bond movie from the '60s, after all.

Pussy Galore wasn't the first strong female character Blackman played. She'd risen to pop-culture fame, at least in Britain, as Catherine Gale on The Avengers (1962-64), and she'd also played the Greek goddess Hera in Jason and the Argonauts (1963).

Source: (Grimsby Telegraph)

Honor Blackman was born in Plaistow, England, on August 22, 1925. In 1940, on her 15th birthday, her parents gave her elocution lessons which she credited with beginning her acting career. She then started her training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. While there, she worked as a clerical assistant.

Blackman had her acting debut after graduating, when she was an understudy in The Guinea Pig, a performance in London’s West End. In 1947, she appeared in The Blind Goddess at the Apollo Theater.

Her Early Career

Source: (Happy Mag)

Her first film appearance was a non-speaking role in Fame is the Spur in 1947. In 1948, she married for the first time, to Paul Sankey, but divorced in 1956 prior to reaching stardom. She continued to have small roles throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, including the Titanic drama A Night to Remember in 1958. She then appeared on television in the recurring role of Nicole, a secretary on the series The Four Just Men, which ran from 1959-1960. In 1962, she had a role as a secretary, Pauline Stone, who was one of the murder suspects in an episode of The Saint. In 1961, she married the British actor Maurice Kauffman, but that marriage ended in divorce in 1975. The couple adopted two children, Lottie and Barnaby, and after the second divorce she remained single for the rest of her life. 

Breaking Through As An Avenger

With Patrick Macnee, her costar in The Avengers. Source: (Pinterest).

In 1962, she had her breakthrough role, as Cathy Gale, a leather-clad anthropologist in the British show The Avengers. For the role, Blackman had to learn judo. In her boots and her catsuits with her tough persona, she became a star. After Blackman's departure from the show, Diana Rigg stepped in a Steed's new partner, Emma Peel. Rigg would also follow in Blackman's footsteps when she became a Bond girl in On Her Majaesty's Secret Service.

One of the unlikely results of her stardom was the release of a hit single, "Kinky Boots," with her costar, Patrick Macnee, in 1964. The song hit the top 10 in 1990. She also went on to release an album, Everything I've Got, after appearing in Goldfinger

Becoming A Goddess

As Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. Source: (IMDb)

Her next film came in 1963, prior to becoming a Bond girl. She was cast as an Olympian in Jason and the Argonauts, which featured stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen. As Hera, she was the goddess Jason turned to for assistance.  

A Very Different Bond Girl

With Sean Connery. Source: (IMDb).

In more ways than one, her role as Cathy Gale led to a career defining role as Pussy Galore. Her martial arts skills coupled with her other assets helped her to land the role in Goldfinger in 1964. As Pussy Galore, she was strong and assertive, flirtatious, but failing to succumb to Bond until the end. As the leader of a group of female aviators who had been enlisted by the film’s villain, Galore was definitely not a damsel in distress. At the time of the film, she was 38, five years older than Connery, and one of the oldest Bond girls. Blackman also didn’t like being called a Bond girl, as she saw Pussy Galore as a feminist.

After Bond

In Shalako. Source: (IMDb).

After Goldfinger, Blackman had several other film appearances in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In 1965, she was in Life at the Top with Laurence Harvey, and Shalako in 1968, a Western with Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot. In 1970, she was cast in The Virgin and The Gypsy and in 1971, she appeared in Something Big with Dean Martin. She faded off the big screen after that, although she did appear in a few movies in the mid to late ‘70s, and later had appearances in Bridget Jones’s Diary in 2001 and Jack Brown and the Curse of the Crown that same year.  

Off The Big Screen

Source: (News Brig)

She did continue acting though her big screen presence was not as prominent, with a few stage appearances. She toured Australia and New Zealand in the late 1970s, in the comedy Move Over Mrs. Markham and starred in Stephen Barry’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day. She also had stage appearances in 1981, in a revival of The Sound of Music, and in 1987, in Nunsense. She appeared in a touring production of My Fair Lady from 2005-2006, in the role of Mrs. Higgins. She also developed a one-woman show entitled Word of Honor in 2006 and for several months in 2007, played the role of Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret in London’s West End. She also had guest appearances on television shows, including Columbo and Dr. Who. From 1990-1996, she played the role of Laura West on The Upper Hand.

She died from natural causes on April 5, 2020, at 94.   

Tags: Bond Girls | Goldfinger | Honor Blackman | Jason And The Argonauts | Ladies | Pussy Galore | The Avengers

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Cyn Felthousen-Post

Writer

Cyn loves history, music, Irish dancing, college football and nature. Social media is also her thing, keeping up with trends and celebrities with positive news. She can be found outside walking or hiking with her son when she's not working. Carpe diem is her fave quote, get out there and seize the day!