Obituary for Honor Blackman: “My name is Pussy Galore”

ESearching through the directory of all 20th century British surnames did not result in a single match for “Galore”. The surname does not exist. This is not surprising, because “galore” is an adjective and means something like “in abundance” or “abundant”. Of course, the first name “Pussy” does not exist either, at least not in chaste official documents. But Pussy Galore exists in the popular memory of our world, and it is thanks to its inventor Ian Fleming – and at least as much as the actress Honor Blackman, that it exists.

The name is actually a wet men’s joke like that of so many Bond girls, only Honey Rider, Octopussy, Kissy Suzuki, Mary Goodnight, Holly Goodhead, Molly Warmflash and Lisl von Schlaf should be mentioned; the vulgar “Austin Powers” ended this “tradition” with Felicity Shagwell and Alotta Fagina. After the turn of the century, the unambiguous Bondgirl names fell victim to increasing political correctness, what else can you read into Strawberry Fields besides the Beatles and what in Dr. Madeleine Swann besides Proust?

The first meeting on the plane

Credit: imago images / Everett Collection

In any case, Honor Blackman never expressed problems with her notoriety via this name. Bond producers felt their feet cool down in the mid-1960s and considered changing their name to “Kitty Galore”, but when British newspapers reported that Honor Blackman would play “Pussy”, Fleming’s creation remained the same. The US censors almost passed out by the name and enforced that Pussy Galore was referred to as “Miss Galore” on all written material for the film. That didn’t really matter to Honor Blackman, who, with devilish pleasure, sprinkled her full role name several times in every American interview.

Most of the time, Pussy Galore tops lists of the most popular Bondgirl names, and when the first “official” Bond revival novel appeared five years ago, she was allowed to be there. Two US Air Force planes were named “Pussy Galore” and “Pussy Galore II”, but both were lost in the Vietnam War. One was shot down over Hanoi, the other did not survive a crash landing in Taiwan; Goldfinger’s private jet also crashes, but Galore and Bond save themselves on a tropical beach and make unmistakable movements under their parachute.

A feminist role model

It was much more than the name. Pussy Galore was a new female design, a feminist role model (well, for some Feminists). In Fleming’s novel Goldfinger, Pussy Galore is the only woman in the United States to lead a gang of organized crime. Her gang is called “Pussy and the cement mixers” (cement! Mafia! Corpses!) And is hired by Goldfinger for his “Operation Grand Slam” as an auxiliary force; he wants to radioactively contaminate the entire US gold reserve, that would be the ideal plot for the uncertain post-corona period.

++ Paid ++ GOLDFINGER, Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, 1964 Courtesy Everett Collection ATTENTION RECORDING DATE ESTIMATED PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xCourtesyxEverettxCollectionx MSDGOLD EC018

Blackman and Connery in “Goldfinger” in front of a poster by Galor’s stunt troupe “Pussy Galores Flying Circus” – later the name inspiration of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”

Credit: imago images / Everett Collection

Pussy has black hair, pale skin, purple eyes – and a dark, smoky, sexy voice. In the film she has one of the most memorable first appearances in film history. Bond, knocked out by a stun gun, opens his eyes again in Goldfinger’s jet and is the first to look into this face framed by blonde, shoulder-length hair, which curls his lips into a not necessarily friendly smile.

“Who are you?” He asks half-dazed. “My name is Pussy Galore” she speaks, to which 007, almost himself again, replies: “I must be dreaming!” Pussy proves himself to be absolutely equal in cold-blooded courtesy: she should behave properly, she admonishes him, otherwise she will stun him again; instead, she suggests that he relax, have a cocktail, and enjoy the flight.

“Immune” to Bond’s charm?

In Fleming’s novel, the entire cement mixer band consists of lesbians. In the film you have to listen carefully to discover a hint of it: Pussy declares itself to be “immune” to Bond’s charm. The two fight their gender rivalry in a judo duel, but finally 007 drives them into a corner, forces them to the ground and kisses them. At first she struggles, but then gives in and passionately returns Bond’s kisses. Oh well. The screenwriters also needed a trigger for them to switch sides later.

In any case, Pussy Galore shaped a new image of women, not only beautiful, but also deadly, not only cuddly, but also purposefully. That Honor Blackman was chosen for this was an obvious step. She had been playing John Steed’s partner in the series “With umbrella, charm and bowler hat” for two years – no, not Emma Peel, her character was called Cathy Gale, but she was also intelligent (anthropologist!), And she was already practicing Martial arts, it was already covered in black leather from head to toe. Her successor Diana “Emma Peel” Rigg herself became a bond girl in “Her Majesty’s Secret Service” a few years later. It was a small world in 1960s British film. Both Blackman and Rigg were dubbed by Margot Leonard in Germany.

When she became a Bondgirl, she was almost 40

Honor Blackman had taken a considerable risk of canceling their safe series part for this one film role. When she turned 15, her father had given her the choice of having a bike or speaking lessons for her birthday; she had chosen the speaking exercises. She had played 50 roles in 15 years, nothing really outstanding before Cathy Gale got there. But this calculation also means that when she became Bondgirl, she was almost 40, usually a disqualification for such a part and later only exceeded by Monica Bellucci, who had just reached 50 in “Specter”.

In contrast to many other bond girls, she should assert herself – in a role that is called “the other woman”, that is, as a seductress who confuses calm conditions. The stars in “A Place at the Top” are Laurence Harvey and Jean Simmons, but Honor Blackman lures Harvey away from his wife; Something similar happens in “Shalako” with Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot.

Blackman aged 80 in front of an Aston Martin

Credit: picture-alliance / dpa / dpaweb

However, Blackman always remained glamorous. At the end of sixty, she played a young, male-eating grandmother in the English television series “The Upper Hand”. And she remained defensive, like when she was 87 as a swinging retiree in the horror comedy “Cockneys Vs. Zombies ”. Sean Connery criticized her for escaping into Spanish tax exile, Margaret Thatcher despised her, and rejected the Order of the British Empire because she, as a staunch Republican, should have completed the Knicks at Buckingham Palace before the Queen. And no, it wasn’t Corona who brought her to her knees at the age of 94. She would have forbidden that.

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