Bond Series: Honor Blackman, Pussy Galore in Goldfinger Dies at 94

Honor Blackman, the sexy British actress who portrayed the campy leather-clad Cathy Gale on TV’s The Avengers and then Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (my favorite Bond picture), has died. She was 94.

Blackman, who first won recognition for her performance as Elizabeth Taylor’s friend in the MGM spy tale Conspirator (1949), died at her home in Lewes, Sussex, of natural causes unrelated to the coronavirus, her family said.

“As well as being a much-adored mother and grandmother,” her family said, “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 endeavors she contributed to some of the great films and theater productions of our times.”

The London native with the icy blue eyes also played a woman who believes that she has nothing to live for in A Night to Remember (1958), one of the retellings of the Titanic disaster. And five years later, she starred as the goddess Hera in Jason and the Argonauts (1963).

Considered a real-life goddess to her adoring fans, Blackman joined the British series The Avengers for its second season in 1962 as Mrs. Gale, a widowed anthropologist and black belt in judo who quite ably assists the bowler-wearing, umbrella-toting John Steed (Patrick Macnee) in solving crimes. (Gale started out as a revamped version of another character, Doctor Keel, played by Ian Hendry, who had left the series).

With The Avengers soaring in the ratings and about to air on ABC in the U.S., Blackman in December 1963 announced that she was exiting after two seasons to star as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964). She would effectively be replaced by Diana Rigg as Emma Peel.

“Everybody was quite startled when I decided to leave, especially since the program was about to go onto film and into color. It was a bombshell, I’m afraid, for everybody, that I was going, but I thought my decision was right and I still think it was right,” she said in 2011.

“It was two years of a show every fortnight for the entire year. I used to stand up for hours and hours after rehearsals for clothes fittings as well as go to the gym for my judo. I also used to do an enormous amount of publicity for the series, as did Patrick. It was very, very tough going but great fun.”