Variety reports that English actor Honor Blackman, famous for her roles in the James Bond movie Goldfinger and in the action adventure series The Avengers, has died in Sussex, England. At 94, she was the oldest living “Bond Girl” actress.
Blackman was born in Essex, and started out on the stage as a teenager. She made her film debut in the ’40s with small parts in Fame Is The Spur (1947) and Quartet (1948), and made an appearance in the Titanic-themed movie A Night To Remember in 1958. After roles in English series like Probation Officer and The Four Just Men, she appeared as Hera in Jason And The Argonauts in 1963. She followed that with a huge splash as Cathy Gale in The Avengers, drawing on her years of judo experience. That skill also came in handy when she left the series to become iconic James Bond leading lady Pussy Galore in 1964’s Goldfinger. Galore had her own gang of female crime aviators, and winds up ditching her loyalty to Goldfinger to escape with Bond at the end of the film under a parachute. Blackman was one of the oldest “Bond girls,” 38 at the time, and five years older than her co-star Sean Connery. Entertainment Weekly proclaimed Pussy Galore second only to Ursula Andress’ Honey Rider on its best Bond girls list, pointing out that censors prevented the character’s name from being mentioned in early ads.
Although Pussy Galore is Blackman’s most famous role, she worked steadily throughout the next several decades, appearing in films like Life At The Top with Laurence Harvey in 1965, reuniting with Connery in the Western film Shalako in 1968, and co-starring with Dean Martin in 1971’s Something Big. She was Professor Lasky on Doctor Who in 1986, and Bridget’s parents’ stunning friend Penny Husbands-Bosworth in the 2001 film Bridget Jones’s Diary. Nearing the age of 80, she signed up for a role on the popular British soap Coronation Street in 2004.
Blackman’s family said in a statement to The Guardian:
It’s with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Honor Blackman aged 94. She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family. She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her two children Barnaby and Lottie, and grandchildren Daisy, Oscar, Olive and Toby.
As well as being a much-adored mother and grandmother, Honor was an actor of hugely prolific creative talent; with an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess, along with her unique voice and a dedicated work ethic, she achieved an unparalleled iconic status in the world of film and entertainment and with absolute commitment to her craft and total professionalism in all her endeavours she contributed to some of the great films and theatre productions of our times.