Honor Blackman dead

Honor Blackman, best known for playing one of the most iconic heroines of the James Bond franchise, has died at the age of 94. She played Pussy Galore in 1964’s Goldfinger, hands down one of the best female characters the long-running film franchise has ever seen. She also starred on the British TV series The Avengers, and appeared in projects like Jason and the Argonauts, The Secret of My Success, Doctor WhoBridget Jones’s Diary, and more.

The Guardian reports that Blackman passed away peacefully today in her home, dying of natural causes. Her family released a statement to the outlet:

“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.”

In 1962, Blackman was hired to play Cathy Gale on the popular British spy series The Avengers, where she learned the martial art judo for the role – a skill she would later utilize again soon after her exit from the series. Blackman left the show just two years into her run to appear in the third official James Bond movie as the humorously-named character Pussy Galore, a personal pilot for the title villain and a leader of Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus, an acrobatic team of female pilots.

At first she refuses Bond’s advances (in Ian Fleming’s novel, the character was a lesbian), but after fighting with him in a barn, she eventually gives in to him and helps overthrow her boss’s evil plan. She and Bond escape a plane crash at the very end of the film, and since this is a Bond movie we’re talking about, the whole thing ends like this:

Aside from bringing a level of physicality to the franchise that hadn’t been seen up to that point, Blackman was one of the few Bond girls to be several years older than the actor playing Bond. While many Bond girls were easily wooed and ended up as little more than eye candy, Blackman brought a level of confidence to the role which made it easy to believe she could go toe to toe with Sean Connery.

She had a great sense of humor, too. Reflecting on the movie years after its release, she scoffed at American audiences clutching their pearls at her character’s name. “It’s tongue-in-cheek, isn’t it? I mean, if you’re so po-faced that you have to take that seriously, well bad luck. But I mean, it was very funny. In the States, I was quite shocked that they were shocked. I was rather taken aback. So I used to quite deliberately say, ‘Oh, you mean Pussy?'”

In addition to her film and television work, Blackman was a talented stage performer as well, appearing in theatrical productions of The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, and Wait Until Dark, among others. She was also a singer, breaking out with the 1964 song “Kinky Boots,” which referenced the shoes her character wore on The Avengers. An actress having a music career was nothing new even back then, but to get an idea of what a different time this was, check out the song below:

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