Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Original Bond Girl

Ursula Andress and the famous white bikini

Ursula Andress was born on March 19, 1936 in Ostermundigen, Berne, Switzerland. Her career began as a nude art model in Rome, which led to her first roles in the Italian movie industry.

She became instantly famous around the world following her appearance as Honey Ryder, a shell diver and James Bond's object of desire in Dr. No (1962). In one of the most famous scenes in cinematic history, she rises out of the Caribbean Sea in a white bikini. The scene made Andress a global sex-symbol, and for many she remains the ultimate Bond Girl. The performance was emulated by Halle Berry, who wore an orange bikini and white belt in the 2002 Bond film, Die Another Day.

Andress's skimpy white outfit is regarded as monumental in the history of the bikini, and sales of two-piece beachwear rocketed after the release of Dr. No. The white, hipster-style design, featured a wide British Army belt with brass buckle and fittings, and a scabbard on the left side to hold a large diving knife. The original was auctioned in 2001 at Christie's auction house in London, and sold for £35,000 to Robert Earl, the owner of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain.

Andress won a 1964 Golden Globe "New Star of the Year" award for her performance in Dr. No, but her voice wasn't actually heard in the film. Although she is fluent in English, French, Italian and German, her accent was considered too strong and was dubbed, with speech provided by Nikki van der Zyl, and the calypso by English actress Diana Coupland. She made a further Bond Girl appearance as Vesper Lynd in the 1967 James Bond parody Casino Royale in which her own voice was used.


The famous beach scene in Dr. No is said to have been inspired by Botticelli's Renaissance painting, The Birth of Venus, in which the Roman goddess of love and beauty emerges from the sea on an open shell.

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli (1486)

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