The JBIFC is very sad to report that the Goldfinger actress Honor Blackman has passed away, aged 94.
Born in Plaistow, East London, in August, 1925, Honor showed talent at an early age and was enrolled in the famous Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She pursued her studies part-time while also working as a clerical worker at the UK’s Home Office and also, during the later stages of the war, as a motor cycle dispatch rider for the same department.
Honor’s first acting job was in the theatre in a West End play and, after a number of theatrical stage roles, her first film acting role (aged just 20) was in Fame is the Spur, which starred Michael Redgrave. In the early 1950s, Honor joined the Rank Organisation’s Company of Youth, which had been set up to promote the talents and skills of rising stars.
Over the next ten years or so, Honor appeared in a range of popular box-office films, including A Night to Remember (about the Titanic disaster) and So Long at the Fair. In 1961, when the producers of The Avengers TV series were looking for a new partner for Patrick Macnee to replace Ian Hendry, they chose Honor. Over the course of 1961-64, she became the athletic and leather-clad Cathy Gale, highly skilled in judo and strikingly self-confident, and won something of a cult following among both men and women.
The producers of the James Bond films were also very impressed, too, and chose her to play Pussy Galore in the third Sean Connery 007 movie Goldfinger (1964). The rest, as they say, is history: the role of Pussy as Auric Goldfinger’s chief pilot was a crucial part of the plot, and involved her commanding a team of ace female pilots, known as Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus. Galore, as with Gale, was a strong, self-confident woman, also skilled in judo, which she used to good effect on 007. Honor was especially proud that it was not just another ‘bimbo’ role, as she put it, and she felt that Galore showed other women that they could project feminine glamour, presence and strength on screen.
In an interview given in the 1990s, Honor, looking back on the movie, said: ‘I think Goldfinger is one of the best Bond films ever made. We had a solid script, and the picture will stand up as an adventure story forever’. Hear, hear. We salute you, Honor.
Honor Blackman (1925-2020), R.I.P.