Honor Blackman photo

Honor Blackman

Birth name:
Date of Birth:
12 December 1927 London, England, UK
Height:
5' 6" (1.68 m)
Strong comparisons to Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich have been made about this sultry-eyed blonde who was born on December 12, 1927, in London's East End. While this may seem a bit overzealous, Honor Blackman's stylish allure over the years cannot be denied. One of four children, her father worked as a statistician with the Civil Service and her mother was a homemaker. Receiving diction lessons as a teenager, she later attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She temporarily followed in her father's footsteps with a job in the Civil Service, then worked as, of all things, a dispatch rider during the war. This is where she developed some of her trademark athleticism.Honor received her first acting work in London's West End as an understudy in the play 'The Guinea Pig" and continued on with roles in "The Gleam" in 1946 and "The Blind Goddess" the following year. Films soon became a reality with her debut in Fame Is the Spur (1947) starring Michael Redgrave. In this picture, she dies in a horse-riding accident. It was the beginning of a strange pattern for Honor in which many of her movie damsels would meet untimely deaths. Signed up with the Rank Organization, she joined several other starlet hopefuls who were being groomed for better things. She was initially cast as demure, pleasant young things or "English Rose" types and received dependable but unmemorable co-star billing in such films as Daughter of Darkness (1948), Quartet (1948), A Boy, a Girl and a Bike (1949), So Long at the Fair (1950) and Green Grow the Rushes (1951), the last starring a young Richard Burton. Hollywood also took notice (briefly) when she was cast as the second lead femme in MGM's Conspirator (1949) starring Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Taylor.Following the stress and struggles of advancing her budding career while dealing with a divorce from first husband, Bill Sankey, Honor suffered a nervous collapse in the mid 1950s and was committed for a brief time to a hospital. After regaining her health, she began to rebuild her career with rather obligatory "B" level fare at first. This culminated in a co-starring role in one of the more famous re-tellings of the tragic Titanic tale, A Night to Remember (1958) which co-starred Kenneth More and David McCallum. Developing a solid footing again, she filmed The Square Peg (1959) with comedian Norman Wisdom and A Matter of WHO (1961) with Terry-Thomas. TV series work came her way as well, none more suitable than her role as the leather-clad Mrs. Cathy Gale in the highly popular "The Avengers" (1961) co-starring Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Her incredulous beauty, self-confidence and athletic derring-do not only made her a catch for the men, but helped to inspire the 60s feminist movement. Honor left the show at its peak, however, and was replaced by the equally assertive and popular Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel.Not out of work long, Honor continued with the role of the goddess Hera in the popular Greek odyssey movie adventure Jason and the Argonauts (1963), complete with marvelous Ray Harryhausen special effects, and the melodrama Life at the Top (1965) with Laurence Harvey. She then filmed the most popular role of her career. As the daunting Pussy Galore in the classic James Bond movie Goldfinger (1964), she went toe-to-toe with Sean Connery's womanizing "007" and created major sparks on screen, managing to outclass the (wink-wink) double-meaning of her character's name.This resurgence of popularity should have led to better films but didn't, toiling for the most part in low-level melodrama and routine adventures. She earned raves on stage, however, as the blind heroine in the thriller "Wait Until Dark" and for her dual roles in "Mr and Mrs," based on two of Noel Coward's plays. She also enjoyed working occasionally with her second husband, actor Maurice Kaufmann, in the play "Move Over, Mrs. Markham" and the film horror thriller Fright (1971) with Susan George. On stage she became a throaty-voiced sensation in such musicals as "A Little Night Music," "The Sound of Music," "On Your Toes" and "Nunsense."Divorced from Kaufmann in 1975, she never remarried (he died in 1997). The couple adopted two children in the late 1960s, Lottie and Barnaby. Now a octogenarian, the ever-lovely and still glamorous Honor performs frequently, more recently working in the long running hit comedy series in England "The Upper Hand" (1990) and in her one-woman stage show "Wayward Ladies."
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