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Honor Blackman    

Honor Blackman

Cathy Gale, 1962-64

by David K. Smith and Alan Hayes

Honor Blackman was born either 22 August 1926 or 12 December 1927, depending on your source, in London, England, and credits her father for her acting career—unusual, given that her family was not especially wealthy. For her fifteenth birthday he offered her a choice: a bicycle or elocution classes. Feeling her accent was becoming a bit too Cockney, she chose the latter. Her teacher advised her father to enroll her in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which she attended part-time while working as an office clerk.

Upon graduation, her father once again influenced her career by suggesting that she audition as an understudy in a West End play, The Guinea Pig. When the show's lead actress fell ill, Honor had her first "big break." This led to her first film appearance, a non-speaking part in Fame is the Spur, wherein she was killed by a cavalryman—and she was nearly killed for real by a horse that stepped on her hair while she was lying on the ground.

After a string of unremarkable "English rose" type film roles while working as a contract player for the Rank Organisation, Honor struck gold when Leonard White hired her for the part of Cathy Gale. Tony Arnell, casting director, says, "I put Honor’s name forward simply because when I was at Spotlight I remember she used to come and see a colleague of mine for help and advice. She was way down on her luck. I think her health wasn't good, her father had died, her marriage was up the creek—she was way down on her suppers, but she still looked amazing... Some people worried that her accent was 'too Kensington,' but I didn't think that mattered at all."

Honor had married actor Maurice Kaufmann six months before being cast as Cathy Gale. The couple would often help each other learn lines for upcoming performances, and The Avengers was no exception. They enacted many Avengers scripts together at home, and this habit was even noted in a TV Times article in November 1963, with a photo of Kaufmann complete with a walking stick which doubled for Steed's umbrella!

After two seasons she decided to leave the series before the part got stale, ostensibly, and she returned to film. Her stint as an expert in hand-to-hand combat won her the juicy role of Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, after which she expanded into fantasy, horror and comedy vehicles.

Honor has twice been the featured guest on the long-running tribute program, This is Your Life, on 17 December 1969 (Thames TV) and again on 17 February 1993 (BBC TV). She is involved with an organization called Fairtrade, which aims to ensure that third world producers get treated fairly and can actually make a living from their work. It is not clear whether she's actively supporting it or just allowing her name to be used, but she was on the front cover of one of their newsletters and was quoted saying how much she supported the organization.

 Awards

  • BAFTA (2000) for The Avengers
  • CBE (2002) — declined

 Links

 Books

  • How to Look and Feel Half Your Age (available for purchase)
  • She has also written a number of children's books

 Stage

200? 

Wayward Women

200? 

Dishonorable Ladies

200? 

Mademoiselle Colombe

Madame Alexandre

199?  

The Glass Menagerie

Amanda

1998  

Old World

1995  

School for Scandal

Lady Sneerwell

19??  

The Life and Times of Yvette Guilbert

1987  

Nunsense

Sister Mary Regina

19??  

The Guinea Pig

19??  

On Your Toes

Peggy Porterfield

19??  

Rose

Rose

19??  

Agnes of God

Mother Miriam Ruth

19??  

Foxtrot

Elizabeth Harris

19??  

The Sound of Music

The Baroness

19??  

Rose

Rose

19??  

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

Lady Windermere

19??  

Heartbreak House

Lady Utterwood

19??  

The Way of the World

Millament

19??  

A Little Night Music

Desiree Armfeldt

19??  

The Deep Blue Sea

19??  

Who Killed Santa Claus?

19??  

Wait Until Dark

 

 Film

2001  

Jack Brown and the Curse of the Crown

Madeline Dubouir

2001  

Bridget Jones's Diary

Penny Husbands-Bosworth

1999  

To Walk With Lions

Joy Adamson

1998  

Tale of the Mummy

Chief Inspector Shea

1989  

Ingrid

1978  

The Cat and the Canary

Susan Sillsby

1977  

Age of Innocence, a.k.a. Ragtime Summer

Mrs. Boswell

1976  

To the Devil a Daughter

Anna Fountain

1974  

The Three Musketeers

(uncredited)

1971  

Something Big

Mary Anna Morgan

1971  

Fright, a.k.a. Night Legs

Helen

1970  

The Last Grenade

Katherine Whiteley

1970  

The Virgin and the Gypsy

Mrs. Fawcett

1969  

Lola a.k.a. Twinky

Mummy

1969  

Child Bride

1968  

The Fight for Rome, a.k.a. The Last Roman

Amalaswintha

1968  

A Twist of Sand

Julie Chambois

1968  

Shalako

Lady Baggett

1965  

Moment to Moment

Daphne Fields

1965  

Life at the Top

Norah Hauxley

1965  

The Secret of My Success

Lily, Baroness von Lukenberg

1964  

Goldfinger

Pussy Galore

1963  

Jason and the Argonauts

Hera

1962  

Serena

Ann Rogers

1961  

A Matter of Who

Sister Bryan

1958  

The Bank Raiders

1958  

A Night to Remember

Mrs. Liz Lucas

1958  

The Square Peg

Lesley Cartland

1957  

Account Rendered

Sarah Hayward

1957  

You Pay Your Money

Susie Westlake

1956  

Diplomatic Passport

Marelle

1956  

Suspended Alibi

Lynn Pearson

1955  

Breakaway

Paula Grant

1955  

The Glass Cage, a.k.a. The Glass Tomb

Jenny Pelham

1954  

The Delavine Affair, a.k.a. Murder is News

Maxine Banner

1954  

The Rainbow Jacket

Mrs Tyler

1951  

Green Grow the Rushes, a.k.a. Brandy Ashore

Meg Cuffley

1951  

Come Die My Love

1950  

So Long at the Fair

Rhoda O'Donovan

1949  

A Boy, a Girl, and a Bike

Susie Bates

1949  

Conspirator

Joyce

1949  

Diamond City

Mary Hart

1948  

Quartet

Paula

1948  

Daughter of Darkness

Julie Tallent

1948  

Homecoming

(uncredited)

1947  

Golden Earrings

1946  

Fame Is the Spur

 

 Teleplays/TV Movies

1994  

The Secret Garden

Voice of Mrs. Medlock

1990  

Voice of the Heart

Doric Asterman

1985  

Minder on the Orient Express

Helen Spender

1984  

The First Olympics: Athens 1896

Ursula Schumann

1984  

Lace

Selma

1982  

The Secret Adversary

Rita Vandemeyer

1962  

An Agent for the Plantiff

 

 TV Series

2001  

Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (miniseries)

Jules

2000  

The Sight

Margaret Smith

1990  

The Upper Hand

Laura West

1981  

Never The Twain

Veronica Barton

1962  

The Avengers

Catherine Gale

1959  

Probation Officer

Iris Cope

1959  

The Four Just Men (Dan Dailey episodes)

Nicole

1958  

The Adventures of Charlie Chan

 

 TV Guest Appearances

2001  

Dr Terrible's House of Horrible

"Lesbian Vampire Lovers of Lust"

Transeet van Eyre

2000  

Doctors

"A Helping Hand"

Rachel Knott

1999  

Blondes

"Diana Dors"

Herself

1999  

The James Bond Story

Herself (uncredited)

1998  

So... Graham Norton

Herself

1992  

Without Walls

"Avenging the Avengers"

Herself

1986  

Doctor Who

"The Trial of a Timelord"

Professor Lasky

1977  

Robin's Nest

"Love and Marriage"

Marion Nicholls

1972  

Boney

"Boney in Venom House"

Mary Answorth

1972  

Columbo

"Dagger of the Mind"

Lilian Stanhope

1963  

Ghost Squad

"Princess"

Laura

1962  

The Saint

"The Arrow of God"

Pauline Stone

1961  

Top Secret

1961  

The Vise

"The Lady Doesn't Scare"

Sally Evans

1960  

Danger Man

"Colonel Rodriguez"

Joan Bernard

1959  

The Vise

"Deep in the Heart of Chelsea"

Syd Lewis

1958  

The Invisible Man

"Blind Justice"

Katherine Holt

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