Honor Blackman: A tribute to ‘Bond Girl’ who was one of the earliest feminist icons in cinema   

The legendary English actor Honor Blackman passed away at the age of 94. She was best known for playing the iconic character of Pussy Galore in the 1964 James Bond classic ‘Goldfinger’

Honor Blackman: A tribute to ‘Bond Girl’  who was one of the earliest feminist icons in cinema   
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Murtaza Ali Khan

The legendary English actor Honor Blackman has passed away at the age of 94 in Lewes, Sussex, England. Blackman, who started her film career in the 1940s with small parts in films such as Fame Is The Spur, Quartet, and Daughter of Darkness, was best known for playing the iconic character of Pussy Galore in the 1964 James Bond classic Goldfinger. Galore is widely regarded as one of the earliest feminist icons in cinema. Standing a cut above a typical Bond girl, Pussy Galore is a female pilot in the service of the fiendish Bond villain Auric Goldfinger. Galore leads a group of women aviators and is a part of Goldfinger's "Operation Grand Slam"—a mission to fly over Fort Knox and gas the soldiers there enabling Goldfinger to break in to the gold vault. However, later in the film, she has a change of heart after she falls in love with Bond. She turns against the evil Goldfinger and is able to inform the CIA just in time to thwart Goldfinger’s sinister plan.

As opposed to the quintessential Bond lady, Pussy Galore brings a rare combination of beauty, brain, and brawn to the table. She is trained in judo and uses her skills to attack and incapacitate Bond after she discovers him eavesdropping. In Blackman’s own words, “In so many of the films, the girls just looked at James and fell flat on their backs. Yet Pussy Galore was a career woman—a pilot who had her own air force, which was very impressive. She was never a bimbo." Blackman was the oldest living “Bond Girl” actress. She was 38 when she essayed the part of Pussy Galore in the third 007 film. Interestingly, at the time, she was not only one of the oldest Bond girls but she was also five years older than the Bond actor Sean Connery.

While describing Honor Blackman’s mesmerizing portrayal of Pussy Galore it becomes essential to mention about her character’s memorable introduction in the film. She is first seen when Bond wakes up in Goldfinger's private jet, hours after being knocked out with a tranquilizer gun by Goldfinger’s henchman. He regains consciousness while lying on a couch and the first thing that he sees is Pussy Galore’s bewitching figure leaning over him. “Who are you?” Bond inquires. “My name is Pussy Galore,” the blonde beauty answers back. “I must be dreaming,” sighs a dazed and confused Bond.

While Pussy Galore was Blackman’s most famous character, it was her action-packed portrayal of Cathy Gale in the ‘60s spy TV series The Avengers that made her a household name in the US. The fact that she was trained in Judo made her a natural choice to play kickass characters like Cathy Gale and Pussy Galore. Today it’s quite common for women action characters to be dressed in latex suits. But it was Blackman’s Cathy Gale that made it a fashion trend. Not to mention her “kinky boots” which went on to became a catch phrase. In fact, Blackman even recorded a popular single titled "Kinky Boots". Barring the two ubiquitously renowned characters, some of Blackman’s best work came in films like So Long at the Fair, The Square Peg, Jason and the Argonauts, Life at the Top, Shalako, The Virgin and the Gypsy, Something Big, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Jack Brown and the Curse of the Crown, among others.

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Published: 07 Apr 2020, 3:50 PM