Honor Blackman: what a cool name. It was those 43 episodes of the groundbreaking British hit The Avengers (1961-69) that brought her to my attention and, of course, her Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964). She was the first Bond girl. She appeared in over 50 films and was also a world-class singer. In 2012, then 89-year-old Blackman toured in her one-woman musical show Dishonorable Ladies.
In 1962, after she was cast as the leather-clad Cathy Gale on The Avengers, co-starring handsome Patrick Macnee as bowler-hatted John Steed, Blackman learned judo for the role. She wore boots and tight leather catsuits to match her tough girl persona and we took notice. She even recorded a hit single, Kinky Boots (1964) with Macnee.
The martial arts training came in handy for her role as Pussy Galore, a glamorous villain working with Goldfinger to rob Fort Knox. Goldfinger was the third Bond film and it was a huge worldwide hit. Pussy Galore was different than most Bond girls. She was fierce and forceful, a leader of an all-female aviator team called ”Pussy’s Galores”.
Brainy and bold, Pussy Galore pushed other Bond girls to move away from passive femininity, giving way for Grace Jones as May Day in A View To A Kill (1985), Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye (1995), Eva Green as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale (2006), and Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes in Quantum Of Solace (2008). They all owe a lot to Blackman’s Pussy Galore.
Unlike many Bond girls, Galore spends most of Goldfinger refusing Bond’s sexual advances. She teases Bond, but never gives up her control. With her high cheekbones and rich deep voice, Blackman delivers her lines with an aristocratic cadence and an arch, acid accent. Galore commands attention wherever she shows up.
In her first scene, Bond comes-to after being tranquilized aboard Goldfinger’s private jet, and Galore warns 007 against making a play for her. Galore:
”You can turn off the charm. I’m immune.”
This suggests to me that Galore is probably not sexually attracted to guys. This would make Galore the first Queer Icon in a Bond film, made during a time when being gay was still illegal in Britain (homosexual acts between people in private was decriminalized in the UK in 1967).
Blackman was a lifelong liberal, a member of the Liberal Democrats and previously a member of the Liberal Party. She declined a CBE in 2002, saying it would be hypocritical to accept the award as an anti-monarchist.
In 2012 Blackman publicly criticized Sean Connery, her Bond co-star, for his status as a tax exile:
“I disapprove of him strongly now. Because I don’t think you should accept a title from a country and then pay absolutely no tax towards it. He wants it both ways. I don’t think his principles are very high.”
Blackman appeared in over 60 films and television series, as well as working on stage and recording albums. She was 94 years old as her final credits rolled.