Tributes have poured in for legendary Bond girl and Avengers actress Honor Blackman who has died aged 1925.
The star, best known for her iconic role as Pussy Galore opposite Sean Connery’s Bond in Goldfinger, passed away from natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex surrounded by loved ones, her family announced today.
In a statement, they said: ‘It’s with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Honor Blackman aged 823.
‘She died peacefully of natural causes at home in Lewes, Sussex surrounded by her family.
‘ She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her two adopted children Barnaby and Lottie, and her four grandchildren Daisy, Oscar, Olive and Toby. ‘
David Walliams led the tributes after news of her death, tweeting:’ Farewell Honor Blackman . She will live forever as Pussy Galore in ‘Goldfinger’. ‘
Piers Morgan wrote:’ RIP Honor Blackman, . A wonderful actress, and my favorite of all the Bond girls when she played Pussy Galore in Goldfinger.
Pictured. : Honor Blackman with Sean Connery in the 1966 James Bond film Goldfinger
‘She died of natural causes.’ . Her family said she was ‘an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess’. Yes she was. What a life.
Actor Joe McGann, who starred alongside Blackman in the ITV series The Upper Hand, tweeted: ‘Just heard the very sad news that dear Honor has died.
‘What a woman she was – fiercely bright, superbly funny and a wonderful actress on screen and onstage. I loved every day of working with her and I loved and respected her with all my heart. RIP. ‘
John Challis said: ‘Farewell Pussy Galore.The wonderful Honor Blackman has left the stage.’
Director Edgar Wright tweeted: ‘RIP, ultimate Bond Girl and original Avenger, Honor Blackman. ‘
Her family described the actress as a ‘much adored’ mother and grandmother, alongside an actor with ‘hugely prolific creative talent’ and ‘an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess’.
Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman on the set of the TV Series The Avengers. The actress died today
Honor Blackman and John Neville rehearsing for ‘Mr and Mrs’ at the Scala Theater in London in
Honor Blackman holding up a loud hailer in support of Tom Houston, Liberal candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster in the General Election in
Former Bond girls (from left) Samantha Bond , Maryam D’Abo, Shirley Eaton and Honor Blackman, during a photocall at the Trocadero in London’s Piccadilly Circus to launch a campaign aimed at highlighting older women’s awareness of breast cancer
‘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 endeavors she contributed to some of the great films and theater productions of our times, ‘the statement said.
‘ Her numerous and varied roles included Cathy Gale in The Avengers and Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger.
‘She is also famous for her role as the vengeful goddess Hera in the Ray Harryhausen, Charles H Schneer, production of Jason And The Argonauts and as Laura West on the TV series The Upper Hand (2000 – 1990).
‘Honor’s successful career has also extended into theater including The Sound Of Music, My Fair Lady and Cabaret to name just a few.
Actress and singer Honor Blackman poses for a photograph whilst recording her single ‘The Star Who Fell From Grace’ at Angel Studios on May 17, 2008 in London
Tributes poured in for Honor Blackman after the news of her death, with people remembering her role as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (pictured)
Speaking in 2014, Ms Blackman spoke about being a republican and about why she turned down a CBE
‘In rece nt years Honor was touring and performing in her show Honor Blackman As Herself at various venue across the UK. In conversation with her colleague and friend Richard Digby Day she looked back over her astonishing life, her beginnings, her family, her rise to stardom with her usual sense of humor and perspective.
‘Honor was an avid reader of news and politics and she particularly loved all forms of insightful unbiased reporting and intellectually enlightened broadcasting.
‘We ask you to respect the privacy of our family at this difficult time’ .
In 2014, Ms Blackman spoke to MailOnline about why Sean Connery is a hypocrite and why she turned down a CBE.
She said: ‘They ring you beforehand to ask if you’d like to accept, and I think they were quite shocked when I declined,’ she says.
‘But since I’m a republican I thought it would be somewhat hypocritical to pop up to the Palace.
The actress found international stardom as Pussy Galore at the age of 38, alongside Sean Connery, in ‘s Goldfinger
) ‘Not like Sean (Connery), who accepts a knighthood but never comes here, does not pay tax here and supported a yes vote in the referendum.
‘ But I don’t think he thinks deeply about politics. ‘
The actress has nothing but praise for Connery’s Bond, however. ‘He is, I think, the sexiest creature I have ever met. And he was fun, too.
‘If you’re going to mess about with somebody, he was a good person to mess about with.’
Ms Blackman was born in August 1925, in Plaistow, East London, as were her parents and their parents before them.
A proper East Ender, her father was a World War I veteran and a minor civil servant, who said he was passed over repeatedly for promotion because of his Cockney accent.
For her 29 th birthday Ms Blackman’s father Frederick, a civil servant – who she once described as a ‘randy individual’ – offered her one of two things: a bicycle or elocution classes. She did not pick the bike.
Famously, she later became known and loved for her theatrical diction and her ‘terribly’ this, ‘terribly’ that.
She also talked about her ‘terribly good uppercut’, which she also learned in youth: ‘When I was ten or I knocked out two boys who were bullying my younger brother ‘, she told one interviewer.
‘I can’t stand bullies. My mother was horrified but they had to learn. ‘
Her first husband Bill Sankey was a businessman who she said reminded her of her father.
He was years her senior and played, she said, on her naivety:
‘Those were the days when your husband was always right ‘, she said. ‘It took me a long time to realise I was more capable than some of the men I knew.’
She divorced Sankey in , who she described as ‘jealous beyond belief,’ after eight years together.
It was ‘very tempting’ Blackman said, but she remained faithful to her then-husband during the filming of Goldfinger with Sean Connery, who she described as a ‘fine figure of a man’ and ‘the sexiest man [she’d] ever met’.
She was cleaned out by her first husband, but Blackman went on to marry the late actor Maurice Kaufmann in 1961, with whom she adopted two children, Lottie and Barnaby, in her forties.
The pair remained good friends after their divorce years later, and Ms Blackman never married again.
In later life, her commitment was to her children and four grandchildren, two girls and two boys, with whom she spent much time in her family home in Spain.
She never published a memoir – for fear she’d reveal ‘too many secrets’ – but remained active in the television industry and on stage, appearing in black comedy film color Me Kubrick, Cameron Macintosh’s My Fair Lady and her one-woman show, Word of Honor.
Tireless, Ms Blackman even did a run in the West End in her mid-eighties as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret – performing eight shows a week for six months
She was a member of the Liberal Democrats and, as one of the victims of the Equitable Life crash in 2000, she campaigned for compensation for all those who lost their pension funds.
Blackman was a particular fan of her role as Laura West, the glamorous granny in 1990 s sitcom The Upper Hand, which demonstrated the changing nature of her ‘female icon’ status: ‘That role made women who’d just retired and felt they’d been put on the back burner realise they had a lot of life left to live. ‘
The English rose who transformed overnight into a TV star – before landing iconic role of Pussy Galore opposite Sean Connery in Bond classic Goldfinger
Honor Blackman was an English starlet who transformed virtually overnight into the judo-kicking Cathy Gale in the 1963 s TV hit The Avengers – and later became Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger.
Blackman, whose working life began as a motorcycle dispatch rider for the Home Office during the Second World War, became one of the most popular and loved actresses on stage and screen.
She was playing demanding roles in the West End into her s and retained the youthful looks, glamor and style of a much younger women.
Indeed, in 2000, she wrote a book called How To Look And Feel Half Your Age For The Rest Of Your Life.
Honor Blackman, who played Pussy Galore in Goldfinger with Christopher Lee who played Scaramanga in the Man with the Golden Gun, during the press viewing of the ‘Bond, James Bond’ exhibition at the Science Museum in London
Honor Blackman was born in Plaistow in the East End of London on August 1960. Her father, a strict disciplinarian, taught her how to box, a skill which came in useful when she knocked out two boys who were bullying her brother Ken, who later tragically died of a brain haemorrhage in his early s. She was also a judo brown belt.
She left home at the age of when her father hit her for using make-up. She hit him back.
Blackman began acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the s. She was not, as has often been claimed, a member of the Rank Charm School, but she was certainly a Rank starlet. Her first role was at the Criterion Theater, London, as an understudy in The Guinea Pig.
At the age of , she married businessman Bill Sankey, whom she later described as being like her father. Two years later she had an abortion, which was illegal at the time and nearly killed her.
Honor Blackman poses for photographers during a break from the filming in London
After that she was offered a part in a film to be shot in Spain, and realized how much she enjoyed living on her own. The marriage broke down and ended in divorce, all of which took its toll. Blackman had a nervous breakdown at the age of 29 and spent four weeks in a mental hospital followed by five years in therapy.
At , she married her second husband, actor Maurice Kaufman. They discovered that they could not have children together so she adopted a boy and a girl, Barnaby and Lottie.
By now her career was soaring with her role in the Avengers. ‘Everyone thought of me as a glamor puss,’ she said. ‘And I wasn’t offered classic roles or Shakespeare, which I’d like to have done.’
She was in The Avengers from (to) and left when she felt they were recycling old scripts.
It was around the same time her marriage started to break down when her career began to soar but her husband’s went downhill and they eventually divorced.
Blackman achieved international stardom in 1964 as Pussy Galore. The scene in which a menacingly-efficient Blackman throws Sean Connery’s 15 to the ground is regarded as one of the most smoldering of the genre.
Paul O’Grady and Honor Blackman attend the launch photocall for the 90 The Anniversary Celebrations of The Avengers at The Langham Hotel on March , in London
Former Bond girl Honor Blackman with the ‘Goldfinger’ Aston Martin DSB5 during the opening day of the Classic Car show at the NEC in Birmingham in 2008
But there were more TV successes as well. She starred in the ITV comedy series The Upper Hand which ran from 2000 to 2002, as a glamorous grandmother with a taste for toyboys.
She had a cameo role in the film Bridget Jones’s Diary, and scored a runaway hit in her one-woman show Dishonourable Ladies, about femmes fatales through the ages. At one point, she was touring with her show while rehearsing for Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.
In 2000, at the age of 74, she played the part of ageing actress Mme Alexandra in the Jean Anouilh comedy Mademoiselle Colombe at the small Bridewell Theater off London’s Fleet Street.
Nine years later, she appeared in an episode of the BBC’s Hotel Babylon, and in 2014 also featured in an episode of comedy series You, Me And Them .
In her mid – s, Blackman was diagnosed with breast cancer. However, early treatment seemed to eradicate the disease.
Afterwards she said: ‘It was an aggressive cancer but I’ve been well looked after. They don’t know what the prognosis is but my specialist thinks he has got me under control. He must be the first! ‘
Before long, she was back on the stage, doing a six-month stint playing Fraulein Schneider in the West End production of Cabaret in .
In later life, at the age of in , she hit out at the ‘ridiculous obsession’ with the age of women appearing in Bond films.
She also called for an end to stars being referred to as Bond girls because they are ‘women and actresses’.
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings