There seems to be more and more bad news these days, the latest of which is that esteemed actress, Honor Blackman has passed away, aged 94.
Honor played Professor Lasky alongside Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford in the television story, Terror of the Vervoids. This was the first time I’d ever seen her in anything; it would be years before I saw and loved The Avengers, but for me, her voice was really unique, sticking with me to this day. As another treat, she also appeared in the Big Finish audio-drama, The Children of Seth alongside Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, and Janet Fielding.
Of course, many fans will have also seen her as Bond Girl, Pussy Galore alongside Sean Connery’s James Bond in Goldfinger. But her big breakthrough came in 1962 when she was cast as Cathy Gale in The Avengers. I love The Avengers so she’s a household name for me.
In the Avengers, she was paired with Patrick Macnee (who played John Steed) and her action role, which required her to learn judo, quickly cemented her as a British television icon. She left the Avengers to film Goldfinger, when she was replaced by Diana Rigg as Emma Peel.
Her love of acting started at the young age of 15 when she was gifted acting lessons from her parents, Edith Eliza Stokes and Frederick Blackman, a civil servant. She began her training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1940. During this period, she also worked as a clerical assistant for the Home Office and, following her graduation, was an understudy for the West End play, The Guinea Pig and later in 1947, appeared in the Patrick Hasting’s play, The Blind Goddess, which was hosted at the Apollo Theatre.
Her first film was a non-speaking part in Fame is the Spur in 1947, followed by Quartet in 1948, which was her speaking debut.
She had further appearances in other notable films including Hammer Horror’s To the Devil a Daughter in 1976, 2001’s Bridget Jones’ Diary, 1950’s So Long At the Fair, and 1958’s A Night to Remember, based on the Titanic disaster.
But Blackman also produced a number of songs, one of which, Kinky Boots – which she sang with her Avengers co-star Macnee, and which was a top 10 single on its initial release in 1964 – would later resurface and climb to No.5 in the charts in 1990. Following Goldfinger, she would go on to produce an album entitled Everything I’ve Got. In 2009, she would release another single, The Star Who Fell From Grace.
In her personal life, Blackman was a devoted Liberal Democrat, something which meant she turned down a CBE from the Queen in 2002, as she felt it would be hypocritical to accept. She was also very vocal about the actions of her old co-star, Sean Connery and former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Honor Blackman passed away from natural causes at home in East Sussex on 5th April 2020, surrounded by her family.
“It’s with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Honor Blackman aged 94. She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family. She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her two children Barnaby and Lottie, and grandchildren Daisy, Oscar, Olive and Toby. ”
“As well as being a much-adored mother and grandmother, 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 endeavours she contributed to some of the great films and theatre productions of our times.”Her family said in a press release announcing her passing.
The passing of Honor Blackman came as a real shock to her fans, but she will always be remembered for her roles in James Bond, The Avengers, and Doctor Who to name but a few.
Honor Blackman: 22nd August 1925 – 5th April 2020. Rest in peace.