1962 was a historic year for 007 fans. That’s because that was the year that Ursula Andress became the very first Bond Girl when she played Honey Ryder alongside Sean Connery in the first Bond film, Dr. No. That proved to be the Swiss actress’s breakthrough role. She went on to enjoy an active career in Hollywood; Appearing in films such as Casino Royale, Fun In Acapulco, Peter The Great, and Clash of the Titans – to name a few.
At 85, she still gets stopped on the street and asked fans about Dr. No and her Bond days. While she may not look quite as striking as she once did back in her glory years as a Hollywood sex symbol; we’ve gotta hand it to her. Ursula is still looking pretty fantastic, considering her age.
In this video, we’ll be taking a look back on Andress’ fascinating life story while paying extra special attention to some of her more provacative career highlights. Let’s first take a look at her early years and rise to fame.
Ursula’s Early Years
After attending school in Bern, the defacto Swiss Capital until she was 16, Andress went to Paris to study art for a year. She then relocated to Rome, where she worked as a nanny.
Ursula was born on the 19th of March, 1936, in Ostermundigen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland. She was the third of six children born to Anna and Rolf Andress. Her father, a German diplomat, expelled from Switzerland when she’s still a child for political reasons. As such, her grandfather, a garden designer, took over his role as legal guardian.
While she was attending a party in Rome, she met a film producer who offered her a screen test for a part in an upcoming Italian film. That screen test led her to landing walk-on parts in two films, 1954s An American in Rome and 1955s The Sins of Casanova. The latter of which co-starred future Bond ally Gabrielle Ferzetti.
After appearing in those films, she persuaded by a Hollywood executive to fly out to Tinsel Town to try her luck out in the American film industry.
Ursula showed up in Hollywood in the fall of 1955. Earlier that year, she had signed a seven-year contract with Paramount with a weekly payout of $287. Unfortunately, that contract wasn’t able to land her any roles; largely because she refused to learn how to speak English at the time.
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Ursula Briefly Dated James Dean Before Achieving Bond Fame
Even though Classic Hollywood HearthrobJames Dean’s sexuality has hotly contested over the years; With some people, including his friends and family members, insisting that he’s gay while others speculating that he was bisexual; He never confirmed these claims. But regardless of what team he played for, so to speak, while enjoying his time in the Hollywood spotlight. Dean had a number of romances with some of show businesses’ most beautiful women of the day. One of these high-profile flings was with future Bond Girl, Ursula Andress.
She was just 19, while Dean was 24 when they started seeing each other. Things didn’t seem to get off to a very good start, however; and their relationship would ultimately be a pretty brief one. Some have even suspected that their relationship was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
One of Dean and Andress’ most publicly visible moments together was when they attended the Thalian’s Ball as each other’s dates at the famed Ciro’s Nightclub back in 1955. Since the couple didn’t have a very solid relationship; the gossip rags had a field day reporting the drama witnessed between the two.
Reportedly on their first date, not long before he slated to travel to Texas to film his 1956 flick GIANT; the Rebel Without a Cause star didn’t make a very good impression with his Swiss miss. Dean apparently straight-up abandoned Andress to go play drums with the band. Andress so peeved that she ended up leaving the event without him.
After Ursula made her way back home; Dean realized that he had messed up and drove to her house to apologize. Hoping to butter her up, he also took her out for hot cocoa.
Ursula and Dean’s relationship would never really move beyond this kind of rocky dynamic. It’s been reported that Dean even learning German so he could argue with Andress since she still not very good with English yet.
While the two shared quite a bit of passion, they also fought, as Dean put it, ‘like cats and dogs’. That evening at Thalian’s Ball would be their first and last public appearance together. Sadly, Dean killed in an automobile accident only one month later.
Dr. No Transformed Andress Into An International Sex Symbol
In 1956, after managing to buy herself out of her Paramount contract; which she felt like was only her back, Andress signed with Columbia Pictures. But once again, she made no films with that production company either. In 1957, she married actor John Derek, who convinced her to stick around in Hollywood. Two years later, in 1959, it said that a film titled High Variety was in the works starring Derek and Andress together; but it never materialized.
After several years of appearing in not much of anything; Andress returned to the screen appearing in an episode of the series Thriller entitled La Strega. Later that year, she would achieve international fame appearing in her career-defining role as Honey Ryder in the James Bond film Dr. No.
Honey Ryder particularly significant as she is regarded as the first true Bond girl. Ryder’s iconic entrance, emerging out of the ocean wearing a white bikini, holding two large seashells while her blonde hair glistens in the sunlight. Is widely considered one of the most classic James Bond moments of all time.
The scene firmly established Andress as a sex symbol. In 1965, Andress appeared nude in Playboy. She would featured a total of seven times in the magazine over the following fifteen years. When asked by reporters why she chose to do that first Playboy shoot; Andress confidentially replied by saying that she did so simply because she was beautiful. Ursula knew full-well that her looks were what made her a star, and she wasn’t ashamed of that in the least bit. How could she be? Her beauty was clearly one of her biggest strengths.
Ursula Went On To Have A Thriving Hollywood Career
While she is best known for her role as Honey Ryder, Andress starred in numerous other popular films as well. She appeared opposite Elvis Presley in Fun in Acapulco and acted alongside Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in 4 for Texas.
In the 1970s, Ursula also appeared in the James Bond parody Casino Royale and the epic fantasy film Clash of the Titans.
By the 1990s, Ursula’s career finally started to slow down. Her most recent film, St Francis bird Tour, released in 2005. After that movie premiered, she told The Sunday Post that she had finally retired, although she left room for the possibility of coming out of retirement if the right role ever came her way. She did, however, acknowledge that she wasn’t the young girl that she used to be, though she said that she still felt young in spirit.
Ursula Andress Today
These days, Andress spends her time between her two homes in Rome and Switzerland. In that same interview with The Sunday Post, she shared that she spends the majority of her time making art. She called art her first love and explained that she enjoys photography as well. Evidently, she has even had some of her photos published in international publications.
Andress has but one child, a son whom she named Dimitri. She gave birth to him in 1980 when she was dating Harry Hamlin. Andress and Hamlin met while they were working together on Clash of the Titans, and they would remain together between 1979 and 1983.
In 2020, Andress told the press that she was surprised that Dr. No was so successful. It was the first James Bond film, and being the relatively small production that it was, she anticipated that no one would ever see it. In fact, she even claims that she didn’t care for the screenplay when she first read through it. But to her surprise, the film was a huge hit. A large reason why the movie took off as it did was the on-screen chemistry shared between Andress and her co-star Sean Connery.
Andress went on to share that she and Sean remained close friends until his death in 2020. She described him as a man who had a tremendous sense of humor and had the ability to quickly understand other people.
Andress and Connery continued to meet up often over the years leading up to his passing. In 2020, she said that the last time they enjoyed each other’s company was in Switzerland when Connery had bought a house in Gstaad not far from hers. The two ended up spending many evenings together, and Connery would often invite her to places like London, New York, and Monte Carlo.
Ursula Andress is one incredible lady. She may be enjoying her retirement in her golden years, but she lived quite an adventurous and productive life in her younger years. During her heydey, she was regularly featured on the covers of magazines and was regularly gossiped about in the pages of the tabloids.
She might have been the first Bond girl, but she really never stopped being one. Once a Bond girl, always a Bond Girl.
Who, in your opinion, was the most iconic Bond Girl? And how does Ursula Andress stack up against other members of that exclusive club? Let us know in the comments down below.
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