The actress Honor Blackman
, best-known for playing Bond girl Pussy Galore and Cathy Gale in The Avengers, has died at the age of 94.
Honor Blackman enjoyed a career spanning eight decades, appearing in many films and television series. She appeared in Doctor Who in 1986 playing Professor Lasky in the Sixth Doctor story Terror of the Vervoids.
Honor Blackman was born in East London in 1925, the daughter of a Civil servant. For a 15th birthday present, she was given acting lessons, a gift that would lead to her becoming one of the hardest working and most successful actresses of her generation.
Her film debut came in 1947 with a non-speaking part in Fame Is the Spur
Other films include in 1948 Quartet
based on short stories by W. Somerset Maugham and in 1950 So Long at the Fair
in which she appeared with Dirk Bogarde. In 1958 she appeared in the film based on the Titanic disaster A Night to Remember
Her breakthrough came in 1962 when she was cast as leather-clad crimefighter Cathy Gale
in the hit British show The Avengers
, playing alongside Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Her action role, which required her to learn judo, endeared her to the nation and with her distinctive dress sense, she quickly became a British icon. One side effect, a top ten single, Kinky Boots
, recorded in 1964 with Macnee.
It was her performance in The Avengers
which led to Albert R. Broccoli casting Blackman as Pussy Galore
, opposite Sean Connery
in the James Bond franchise, despite the show not being well known in America. He said, "I knew the Brits would love her because they knew her as Mrs Gale, the Yanks would like her because she was so good, it was a perfect combination".
Appearances followed in series such as Never the Twain, Bridget Jones's Diary, Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story, Casualty
and even a stint in Coronation Street
where she played Rula Romanoff
In 1990, she was cast in a regular role in the ITV sitcom The Upper Hand
, playing the glamorous mother of the lead female character. Blackman expressed her fondness for the role, saying it "made women who’d just retired and felt they’d been put on the backburner realise they had a lot of life left to live".
Blackman was a political activist and a member of the Liberal Democrats. She was a committed republican declining an honour from the Queen in 2002, as she felt it would be hypocritical to accept.
Honor Blackman's death was announced today by her family.
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