First Bond Girl
“This bikini made me a success.” Ursula Andress
An international star of German and Swiss descent, Ursula Andress became famous for being the first Bond girl, Honey Ryder, in Dr. No (1962), opposite Sean Connery. Andress’ glowing presentation in the first Bond movie won her two Golden Globe Awards. The smoldering blonde player is also known for playing roles in such films as What’s New, Pussycat? (1965), Casino Royale (1967) and The Clash of the Titans (1981). Her TV credits include Man Against the Mob: The Chinatown Murders (1989).
A major sex symbol of the 1960s, Andress, whose measurements are 35-21-35 as starlet in 1955; 37 1/2-22-35 on set of Dr. No 1962 and 38C-25-36 on 55th birthday 1991 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine), was named one of Empire magazine’s “100 Sexiest Stars in film history” (1995), and her entrance in the 1962 Dr. No was ranked the first of Channel 4’s “100 Greatest Sexy Moments” (2003). Off the camera, Andress’ personal life is as interesting as her career. At age 17, she ran away with an Italian actor and did not return home until her parents got involved. She married director/actor John Derek from 1957 until 1966, and had a son with the attractive actor Harry Hamlin, who lived with her from1978 to 1982. Her romantic life has also been linked to Marlon Brando, Sean Connery , James Dean, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Ryan O’Neal and Warren Beatty, Lorenzo Rispoli (lived together from 1983-1988) and Fausto Fagone (together 1988-1991).
Childhood and Family:
Ursula Andress was born on March 19, 1936, in Ostermundigen, Bern, Switzerland, to Rolf and Anna Andress. Her father was a German diplomat who vanished during World War II. Ursula’s mother was a Swiss woman. She was raised in a German Protestant family, along with her six siblings.
Four years after running away with an Italian actor, Ursula married director-actor John Derek in 1957, but they divorce in 1966. After the split, the two remained friends up until Derek’s death in 1998. When she was 44 years old, Ursula welcomed a son named Dimitri Alexandre Hamlin (born on May 19, 1980), with American actor Harry Hamlin.
Switzerland-born, German-raised Ursula Andress got her start as an art model in Rome, before breaking into acting in Italian cinematic industry. Her first roles arrived when she landed parts in 1954’s Americano a Roma, Un, a comedy starring Alberto Sordi and Maria-Pia Casilio, Catena dell’odio, La (1955), and Avventure di Giacomo Casanova, Le/ Sins of Casanova (1955). With the help of her lover, actor Marlon Brando, Andress then scored a deal with Columbia Pictures and came to the USA, but putting the career on the backburner after marrying a rising star John Derek.
Returning to filmmaking after a seven year hiatus, the relatively nameless Andress attracted the attention of public when she was cast as a shell dive and a love interest, Honey Ryder, in the first movie version of Ian Fleming’s fantastic James Bond espionage novels, Dr. No (1962), opposite Sean Connery as 007. Her phenomenal performance, emerging from the sea with a white bikini, was so iconic that she subsequently became one of the most desired in the world. Additionally, her burning-yet-cold screen charisma helped to begin the James Bond series that continues to this day, and set the “Bond Girl” standard. Andress reached the zenith of her fame when she was handed two Golden Globes for New Star of the Year and Most Promising Newcomer.
Dr. No torpedoed Andress’ career. She then was cast opposite such bankable stars as Elvis Presley in Fun in Acapulco (1963), Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in 4 for Texas (1963) as well as Sammy Davis Jr. in Nightmare in the Sun (1965), a crime film directed by actor-director husband John Derek. She also starred with her husband in his war movie Once Before I Die (1965), had a supporting role opposite Woody Allen and Peter Sellers in What’s New, Pussycat (1965) written by Allen, and costarred in Italy-France production Decima vittima, La/The 10th Victim (1965). The Swiss beauty further increased her profile by appearing nude for a pictorial in Playboy, that same year.
Still an in demand actress, Andress made many more films in Europe and America in the following years, including the English film The Blue Max (1966, played James Mason’s sticky and sexually greedy wife Countess Kaeti von Klugermann), the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967, as Vesper Lynd, an occasional spy who convinces Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers) to do a mission) and the minor Italian sex comedy Infermiera, L’/ The Secrets of a Sensuous Nurse (1975).
After giving birth, Andress lessened her career, and worked mostly on TV. After roles in Clash of the Titans (1981), an adventure saga based on Greek myths starring lover Harry Hamlin, and Krasnye kolokola, film pervyy - Meksika v ogne (1982), she appeared in television films Manimal (1983), Professore - Diva, Il (1989) and Man Against the Mob: The Chinatown Murders (1989), as well as the miniseries “Peter the Great” (1986). Besides, she landed guest spots in such series as “The Love Boat” (1983), “Falcon Crest” (1988) and “The Dame Edna Experience” (1989).
A 50s Andress gradually withdrew from the showbiz in 1990s. After vanishing from the public eye for two years, she revisited television in 1992 by making guest performances in “Primero izquierda” and “Hola Raffaella!”. She then took on the lead of Xellesia in fantasy-made-for-television films Fantaghirò 3 (1993) and its continuation Fantaghirò 4 (1994), before returning to big screen movies with roles in the Swiss film Alles gelogen (1996) and the musical-drama Cremaster 5 (1997), a Hungarian language motion picture helmed by Matthew Barney. 69-year-old Andress resurfaced eight year later as Madonna in Vogelpredigt, Die (2005), a lovely satire starring Max Rüdlinger who earned a Swiss Film Prize Best Performance in a Leading Role nomination.