Honor Blackman was born in Plaistow, Newham, London.
For her sixteenth birthday her father offered her a choice: a bicycle or elocution classes. She chose the latter.
Her elocution teacher was an inspirational woman who introduced her to a world of poetry and theatre previously unknown to her. In the process Honor discovered talents she didn't know she had. Her teacher advised Honor's father to enrol her in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which she duly attended part-time while working as an office clerk in the Home Office.
It was suggested to Honor - upon her graduation - she should audition as an understudy in a West End play, The Guinea Pig. She did, and was successful in securing the job. Further good fortune came her way when the show's lead actress fell ill, Honor stepped in. Two more West End plays followed but as a princiapal..
Her first film appearance soon followed; a non-speaking part in Fame is the Spur, at Denham Studios, in which she was killed by a cavalryman— life almost imitating art alas, as she was nearly killed by the horse that stepped on her hair whilst she was on the ground.
Joining the Rank Organisation’s stable of talent at Pinewood, Honor appeared in a number of movies including Quartet and So Long at the Fair with Dirk Bogarde, next came the film of the sinking of the Titanic - A Night to Remember and a Norman Wisdom comedy The Square Peg. Television work soon followed and began to dominate her career with appearances in episodes of The Vise for the Danziger Brothers, Douglas Fairbanks Jr Presents, The New Adventures of Charlie Chan, African Patrol, The Invisible Man, The Pursuers, Kraft Mystery Theatre and The Saint, opposite Roger Moore, amongst them.
Meanwhile in her personal life, Honor married Bill Sankey in 1946, but divorced eight years later. In 1961 she married actor Maurice Kaufmann and very soon after went to meet legendary producer Leonard White with a view to playing Cathy Gale in The Avengers. White was looking to replace to replace Ian Hendry, Patrick Macnee's original partner in The Avengers.
|Honor as Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger
||Honor as Cathy Gale in The Avengers
Cathy Gale was unlike any character on TV before. She was smart, sexy, intelligent and could hold her own in any fight scenario (she even wrote a book on self defence as a result of the programme). In her leather clad outfit, she became a pin up for full blooded males all over the world and an inspiration to women striving for equality of the sexes.
During the second season of the show, Honor released a record with Macnee, entitled Kinky Boots. It was a surprise hit, peaking at number 5 on re-release in 1990 - after being played incessantly by BBC Radio 1 breakfast show presenter Simon Mayo.
After 43 episodes of The Avengers Honor decided to move on, and returned to movies with director Guy Hamilton casting her as Pussy Galore in the definitive Bond movie, Goldfinger (1964).
Producer Albert R. Broccoli admitted Honor had been cast on the back of her success in The Avengers, despite the fact that the American audience had never even seen the programme. Broccoli said, "The Brits would love her because they knew her as Mrs. Gale, the Yanks would like her because she was so good, it was a perfect combination".
Post-Bond, Honor continued to blend film, TV and stage work. She next co-starred with Laurence Harvey in Life at the Top and Shalako in which she was partnered firstly with Jack Hawkins and then Stephen Boyd not Sean, sadly, he had Brigitte Bardot in her first film outside France. She also starred in an episode of Armchair Theatre. Alongside Richard Attenborough, she appeared in The Last Grenade and then signed up for a film version of DH Lawrence’s The Virgin and the Gypsy. In 1971, Honor and Maurice Kaufmann both appeared in horror movie Fright. The couple divorced in 1975, but remained firm friends. They had two children together, Lottie and Barnarby.
|Honor as Laura West in the long running ITV sitcom - The Upper Hand
||Bringing some glamour to the cobbles - Honor as
Rula Romanoff in Coronation Street
Further credits include Columbo, To The Devil A Daughter, Robin’s Nest, Crown Court, The Cat and The Canary, Never The Twain, Lace, Minder, and Dr Who. In 1990 Honor was cast in ITV’s new sitcom, The Upper Hand and won over a whole new generation of fans as Laura West; clocking up 94 episodes in six years!
Into the new millennium Honor remained as busy as ever. Appearances in Bridget Jones’s Diary, and popular TV shows Dr Terribles House Of Horror, New Tricks, Midsommer Murders, The Royal and Coronation Street added to her formidable CV.
From 2005 to 2006 she opened Cameron Macintosh's My Fair Lady in Manchester and Birmingham and has performed four one-woman shows nationwide, the present one being Word Of Honor.
She appeared in the wonderful black comedy film, Colour Me Kubrick with John Malkovich in 2005 and in April 2007 she took over the role of Fraulein Schneider from actress Sheila Hancock, in Cabaret at the Lyric Theatre in London's West End. She left the show at the end of September 2007.
Outside of acting, Honor is involved with an organization called Fairtrade, which aims to ensure that third world producers get treated fairly and can make a living from their work. She is a signed supporter of Republic, The Campaign for an Elected Head of State, the UK campaign to replace the monarchy with a republic. She is also a passionate supporter of the work that Liberty does.
Meanwhile, her career continues and Honor is still in huge demand with theatre, voice over and acting work – watch out for an upcoming appearance in Hotel Babylon.