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Jacqueline Bisset, Young Beauty Of 'The Deep,' Then And Now

Icons | March 27, 2019

A young Jacqueline Bisset in 1969, and with Nick Nolte in 'The Deep' (1977). Source: (Wikimedia Commons; Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)

Jacqueline Bisset commanded attention from her earliest films, including Casino Royale (1967) and Bullitt (1968), but seeing Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep (1977) was a revelation for many male moviegoers. Swimming through the depths in a white t-shirt and bikini bottoms, Bisset went from young and attractive actress to white-hot sex symbol overnight. But for Jacqueline Bisset, it's not just The Deep -- the award-winning actress is also known for Who Is Killing The Great Chefs Of Europe? (1978), Under The Volcano (1984), and Wild Orchid (1989). She's still acting today, having appeared on an episode of the acclaimed Netflix series The Kominsky Method.

Jacqueline Bisset has a timeless beauty and has been acting for more than fifty years. Bisset began acting in the 1960s, and in 1977 was called "the most beautiful actress of all time" by Newsweek magazine. Bisset was born in 1944 in Surrey, England. She started modeling as a child so she could pay for dancing and acting lessons. She started out getting roles as an extra in films. Her first substantial acting gig was as a Bond girl of sorts, in Casino Royale, the 1967 007 send-up (not to be confused with the 2006 official 007 film starring Daniel Craig). She played Miss Goodthighs and the role jump-started her acting career. Bisset has starred with some of the biggest leading men, including Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, and Nick Nolte. Though she has fewer roles today, she is still a sought after actress.

The Sixties Were Good To Jacqueline Bisset

Actress Jacqueline Bisset in 'Cul-De-Sac' (1966) and with Dean Martin in Airport (1970). Source: (IMDB)

Jacqueline Bisset was really a starving artist before she got some of her bigger roles. She began as an extra but got a small part in a 1966 Roman Polanski film Cul-De-Sac. Bisset thought Polanski was brilliant and being in his film made her think, “Golly, this is really interesting. Maybe I could try and be in this business more seriously.” It didn’t take long for her talent and striking beauty to be noticed by filmmakers!

Jacqueline Bisset with Steve McQueen in 'Bullitt' (1968) and on the lobby card of The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean (1972). Source: (IMDB)

In 1968, Bisset's career got a boost from three releases. She appeared with Frank Sinatra in The Detective and had a prominent role, as the mysterious beauty who literally washes ashore, in The Sweet Ride. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year for the latter. The film and role you're most likely to see her in these days is Bullitt, in which she played Cathy, sultry love interest of Steve McQueen's protagonist. 

High-profile projects that followed included the star-studded Airport (1970) and The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean (1972), in which she played Rose Bean, and uttered the memorable line "I am a Bean! And we Beans just don't know when we're licked."

Jacqueline Bisset Goes Deep!

Jacqueline Bisset in 1972, and in a famous poster image for The Deep. Source: (reddit; pinterest)

The movie many remember Jacqueline Bisset for is The Deep, a box-office hit in 1977. The opening scene of the movie is of Jacqueline Bisset in a bikini bottom and see-through wet t-shirt. This movie definitely launched her as a Hollywood sex symbol! Producer Peter Guber once remarked, “That t-shirt made me a rich man!” Jacqueline Bisset beat out a few other well-known actresses for the role, including Candice Bergen. Bisset’s leading man was Nick Nolte. It is reported that the two didn’t get along when the movie started filming, but were a romantic item by the time filming was complete.

The Mrs. Robinson Of The '80s

Andrew McCarthy and Jacqueline Bisset in Class. Source: (IMDB)

The 1983 movie Class starred Bisset, Andrew McCarthy, and Rob Lowe. Bisset’s character has an affair with her son’s best friend, played by McCarthy. Bisset was familiar with playing the seductress role, as she had starred in Rich and Famous, another movie where her character seduces two much younger men. Class made Bisset a sex symbol to a whole new generation; like Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, she was a cougar -- before the term "cougar" was even in circulation.

Jacqueline Bisset's Love Life

Jacqueline Bisset and Alexander Godunov on the cover of People magazine. Source (people.com)

Jacqueline Bisset has had several romantic partners over the years but she has never married. She has turned down many offers from other want-to-be suitors including Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando!

Her most public relationship was with Alexander Godunov, a Russian ballet dancer, and actor. You may remember him from the movie, Die Hard. It has been reported that he never got over Bisset and that he died from an alcoholic binge surrounded by photos of her. Bisset was also in a long-term relationship with actor Michael Sarrazin. Bisset has said that she never married because she is, “too independent.”

Who Is Bisset’s God-Daughter?

Angelina Jolie and Jacqueline Bisset. Source: (twitter.com)

Jacqueline Bisset and Jon Voight became friends after starring in a movie together. Bisset has no children of her own but Voight asked her to be godmother to his daughter, Angelina Jolie. While Bisset does not have a close relationship with Jolie, she admires her very much. Bisset even had a small role in Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Her scenes didn’t make the final cut, but she was happy to watch Jolie work.

Her Notorious Golden Globes Speech

Jacqueline Bisset in 'Casino Royale,' 'Bullitt,' and 'The Deep.' Source: (pristineauction.com; pinterest; reddit)

Bisset has been nominated for several awards throughout her career. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role in the miniseries Joan Of Arc (1999) and the French equivalent of the Oscar for a role in La Ceremonie (1995). She finally won a Golden Globe for her role in the 2013 BBC drama, Dancing On The Edge. When she went on stage to accept the award she seemed speechless for quite a while then rambled on and on. She swore several times and said she wanted to thank those who had given her, “pleasure and sh*t.” It left the audience stunned. Piers Morgan tweeted, “Maddest acceptance speech in awards history. Take a bow, Ms. Bisset.”

Bisset Is Not Slowing Down!

Jacqueline Bisset holds her Golden Globe for Dancing On The Edge at the 2014 Golden Globes ceremony. Source: (IMDB)

Bisset has continued to get roles in television and film. She starred with Keira Knightly in the movie, Domino (2005) and in 2006 she had a recurring role in the television show Nip/Tuck. She also did a movie with Drew Barrymore, Miss You Already (2015). As for her time off the set, Bisset spends much of her time reading, cooking, and gardening. She has an insatiable need to keep busy and though she is working less, when she is making a movie, she has said that she becomes “obsessed” with the process. Bisset has no regrets about the way her life has gone. In her own words, “I have a very fulfilling life with good friends and I enjoy my work.”

Tags: Jacqueline Bisset | Ladies | The Deep

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.