Happy 90th birthday to eternal glamour-puss Honor

Honor Blackman in Goldfinger
Honor Blackman in Goldfinger
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HER career has spanned 70 years - the English rose who became a judo-kicking sidekick and then a glamour-puss Bong Girl.

Honor Blackman today celebrates her 90th birthday, but shows no sign of slowing down.

Honor Blackman on 'Loose Women in 2012.'' Photo by Steve Meddle / Rex Features

Honor Blackman on 'Loose Women in 2012.'' Photo by Steve Meddle / Rex Features

Speaking from her house in Spain, she revealed she would still like to travel, watch more theatre and see more movies.

Blackman found international stardom as Bond Girl Pussy Galore aged 38, alongside Sean Connery, in 1964’s Goldfinger.

Prior to Bond, she had dominated the small screen as Cathy Gale in The Avengers from 1960 to 1963.

“Isn’t it just?” she exclaimed when asked how she is feeling about turning 90.

Honor Blackman pictured in character as Cathy Gale in The Avengers in 1964.''Photo: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Honor Blackman pictured in character as Cathy Gale in The Avengers in 1964.''Photo: Popperfoto/Getty Images

“I never expected, I never thought, one doesn’t think... it seems like another century or something when you think about it as you grow up, and live your life and then all of a sudden you find yourself there,” she said.

She has continued tackling West End roles well into her 80s, and it seems she has no plans to retire any time soon.

“I haven’t seen anything, enough theatre or movies that I want to see, which are my business,” she said. “And it seems I have been on the edge of it always, I suppose it was my choice because it happened.”

She reveals that she would like to travel a lot more, notably to Canada - “It’s a fab country, it’s got everything” - and she hopes to return to Fiji.

“I suppose it’s so difficult to know how one would travel comfortably now,” she said. “Because one doesn’t want to bang about between railway stations, so um, I really wish I had a team of sit-down chair carriers, and I could be flown wherever and then carried where I need to go!”

Birthday celebrations will be a party with family and friends in Spain.

“I’ve got all of my family here which is great,” she adds, including all four grandchildren.

When asked about gifts, she is quite clear: “I’d like to be surprised and I expect I shall be surprised!”

She adds: “If I could wish for something I would wish for my health to remain fairly steady so that whatever is in the future, I can really enjoy. I don’t fancy the idea of tottering about and not feeling well, I want to be well enough to do things and not be beholden to other people for all the things I need.”

Reflecting on her career, interestingly her highlight is not Bond or The Avengers, but rather her role in Stephen Sondheim’s musical A Little Night Music.

“It was the most, one of those things where you’ve reached a certain age and the part is perfect for you and you emotionally understand the part. It was the most satisfying thing and I know that I did it very well.

“Actors are always, well, I don’t know if all actors are, but afterwards when you see a film you’ve made, I hardly ever see them except at the premiere, you’re always giving yourself notes.”

“I should have played that like that and why did I play that line like that, you’re always pulling yourself to pieces.

“There are only a few things in your life that you can’t pull yourself to pieces about and A Little Night Music is one of them.”

She is also full of praise for the Avengers and Connery, though.

“Of course it goes without saying, working with Patrick (Macnee) on the Avengers was great, I mean, great fun, terribly hard work but great fun and he was so lovely,” she said. “And Sean (Connery) was a bit of all right to work with too!”

She reflects that she’s been lucky to work with fantastic people in the industry, and remembers only ever having one unpleasant experience.

“I can’t think of anybody that has been distinctly unpleasant to work with - except one actor who shall be nameless - who nobody knows now anyway, from my very first job,” she says.

“I think he’d had a very bitter experience in his acting life and it was my very first play in the West End,” she recalls, “He used to stand in the wings and say ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing here?’ So that wasn’t fun.

“But actually that’s the only really unpleasant person I’ve found in the profession and in 70 years, that ain’t bad.”

The actress, whose working life began as a motorcycle dispatch rider for the Home Office during the war, this year appeared in the Gold television series You, Me & Them, and last year toured theatres with a tour looking back on her rise to stardom.

She began acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the 1940s, with her first job at London’s Criterion Theatre as an understudy in The Guinea Pig. Film and television roles followed, but it was starring roles in The Avengers and as Pussy Galore in the early 1960s that saw her celebrity status cemented. But her stunning looks meant she wasn’t always given the opportunities she might have liked.

“Everyone thought of me as a glamour-puss,” she said. “And I wasn’t offered classic roles or Shakespeare, which I’d like to have done.”

Television roles were though, and she starred as a glamorous grandmother with a taste for toyboys in 1990s comedy The Upper Hand.

In her mid seventies, Blackman was diagnosed with breast cancer. However, early treatment seemed to eradicate the disease. Before long, she was back on the stage, doing a six-month stint playing Fraulein Schneider in the West End production of Cabaret in 2007.

She regularly appears at events celebrating both The Avengers and Bond.