'Goldfinger': Honor Blackman on creating Pussy Galore in her own words

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·5-min read
Sean Connery and Honor Blackman film a scene for Goldfinger at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. It's their first meeting, but that doesn't stop Pussy Galore from putting a restraining arm lock on James Bond. This is an incident from the new film, Goldfinger.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Sean Connery and Honor Blackman film a scene from Goldfinger (Credit: PA Images via Getty Images)

While Honor Blackman was so much more than a 'Bond girl', her appearance as jet pilot Pussy Galore in Goldfinger was little short of iconic.

The British actress died yesterday at the age of 94, but it was 56 years ago, at the age of 39, that she famously knocked Sean Connery's James Bond on his arse.

Read more: Honor Blackman dies at 94

Thanks to her skills in martial arts, learned in a basement dojo under the instruction of judo practitioners and sibling stuntmen Joe and Doug Robinson in London's west end, and honed on the set of The Avengers, she knew all too well how to handle her dust up with 007 in Guy Hamilton's Bond classic before she even arrived on set.

“When we did the fight - the 'so-called fight’ - I'd been used to doing judo in the studio on cement,” she said in an unearthed interview about the making of the movie.

Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore and Sean Connery as James Bond seen here filming a fight scene which develops into a love scene in Goldfingers barn on the Pinewood studios back lot, 2nd June 1964. (Photo by Victor Crawshaw/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore and Sean Connery as James Bond seen here filming a fight scene which develops into a love scene in Goldfingers barn on the Pinewood studios back lot, 2nd June 1964. (Photo by Victor Crawshaw/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

“So they had banks and banks of straw and they said 'Will that be alright? Can you land? Will you be safe?' I mean, it was luxury for me.”

Blackman even published 'Honor Blackman's Book of Self-Defence' in 1965, a copy of which it's said Bruce Lee had on his book shelf.

Goldfinger, poster, Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, 1964. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)
Goldfinger, 1964 (Credit: LMPC via Getty Images)

“We had quite a lot of fun,” she added, “because he had to lie about in the hay for quite a long time.”

Indeed, Blackman was no shrinking violet when it came to her co-star Connery.

In a brilliantly honest moment, she told Saga magazine in 2015: “When you’re faced with Sean Connery it’s a great test.

“Of course I fancied Sean, he was the sexiest man I’ve ever met. He was Mr Universe, with a body to die for, had those twinkly eyes and was great fun.

“Yes, if I hadn’t been married, I would have gone there.”

(Original Caption) 1964: A scene from United Artist's production of "Goldfinger," in which James Bond prevents gold smugglers from robbing the United States' gold supply at Fort Knox. In this scene, Honor Blackman as "Pussy Galore" points a gun at Sean Connery as "James Bond." (Photo by �� John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
A scene from United Artist's production of Goldfinger (Credit: John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

She went on: “I never considered myself a sex symbol. I hate watching myself. I’ve only seen Goldfinger twice: once at the premiere and once at the 50th anniversary. I’ve turned down parts in the past because they required a sexy woman and I didn’t think that was me. I always wanted to play the secretary. I know, it’s extraordinary, but it’s the truth.”

It wasn't all rolling around in the hay, however, and Connery didn't hold back on set.

In interviews provided by Bond studio Eon to press around the release of the movie in 1964, Blackman revealed that her co-star wasn't shy with the physicality.

“I mean you don't have to wait until you get to the fighting scenes with Sean,” she said. “He just says 'Ah, just a minute', and gets hold of you, and you've got through to the bone, because he really is so tough.

“There's one scene where he just has to yank me back, and [my] arm was in a disgusting condition for about a week because of the brute force.”

Prior to the movie’s release, prudish US producers were keen to rename her character Kitty Galore, with Blackman delighting in making them squirm at every possible opportunity.

“It's very much tongue-in-cheek, isn't it? I mean, if you're so po-faced that you have to take that seriously, well, bad luck. But it was very funny,” she once said.

“I was quite shocked that [the studio execs] were shocked. I was rather taken aback. So I used to quite deliberately say, 'Oh, you mean Pussy?' And they used to die.”

Honor Blackman, British actress, posing in a studio portrait, aginst a red background, issued as publicity for the film, 'Goldfinger', circa 1964. The James Bond film, directed by Guy Mailton, starred Blackman as 'Pussy Galore'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Honor Blackman, British actress, posing in a studio portrait, aginst a red background, issued as publicity for the film, 'Goldfinger', circa 1964. The James Bond film, directed by Guy Mailton, starred Blackman as 'Pussy Galore'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

It wasn't just the studio executives who found even the mere mention of her character's name unpalatable.

On the US radio and TV talk show circuit – even on The Johnny Carson Show – the word was bleeped out altogether when she was doing the press rounds.

And heaven forbid any mention of Pussy Galore's exploits from Ian Fleming's original novel, in which Pussy is the leader of an all-lesbian band of cat burglars working out of Harlem, New York.

Blackman remarked on this omission from the movie in an interview with The New York Times in 1981.

UNSPECIFIED - SEPTEMBER 15:  Shirley Eaton, Honor Blackman And Tania Mallet De Goldfinger - James Bond, 1964  (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - SEPTEMBER 15: Shirley Eaton, Honor Blackman And Tania Mallet De Goldfinger - James Bond, 1964 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

“One thing a lot of people didn't know was that in the book, Pussy is a lesbian,” Blackman said.

“But they wouldn't allow that in the movie. And I'm glad they didn't, because it would have seemed so ridiculous that she would change overnight just because James Bond took her to bed.”

Indeed, in being equal to Connery's chauvinistic secret agent, Blackman assured her placed in Bond iconography forevermore.