Honor Blackman, the British actress best known for portraying the James Bond girl Pussy Galore in 1964’s Goldfinger, has died. She was 94.
“It’s with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Honor Blackman, aged 94,” Blackman’s family wrote in a statement to the Guardian. “She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family.
“As well as being a much-adored mother and grandmother, Honor was an actor of hugely prolific creative talent,” they added. “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.”
For Goldfinger, in which Blackman’s Pussy Galore helps Auric Goldfinger attempt to rob Fort Knox, Blackman learned judo for the role. The experience helped spur her to co-write the 1966 book Honor Blackman’s Book of Self-Defence, a book that, as NBC News notes, was “among the first books about martial arts aimed at young women.” Goldfinger would go on to become a massive hit, though it would be the only Bond film she would appear in.
In addition to Goldfinger, she gained notoriety as one of the leads in the 1961 British spy drama series, The Avengers, portraying John Steed’s partner Cathy Gale. In later interviews, Blackman expressed regret for leaving The Avengers in order to work on the film: “I walked away at the wrong moment. They were just going from black and white to color; they were starting to get real film money.”
“Today we mark the passing of a film icon. Honor Blackman, who shall forever be remembered as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger,” series producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement. “She was an extraordinary talent and a beloved member of the Bond family. Our thoughts are with her family at this time.”
Blackman’s career spanned eight decades, and in addition to numerous film roles (Jason and the Argonauts, Shalako, The Virgin and the Gypsy), she starred in the Nineties sitcom The Upper Hand (A British adaptation of the Tony Danza sitcom Who’s the Boss?) as the glamorous mother of the female lead. She said of her character, “It made women who’d just retired and felt they’d been put on the back burner realize they had a lot of life left to live.”