Thursday, 8 April 2010

all the king's women #20 - ursula andress

Ursula Andress was born in Switzerland in 1936 to Swiss mother Anna and German diplomat father Rolf, who was expelled from Switzerland for political reasons and disappeared during World War II. Ursula began her career as an art model in Rome, which led to roles in the Italian film industry, but she remains most famous for emerging from the ocean in a white bikini as Honey Ryder in Dr. No (1962), the first Bond movie. Andress won a Golden Globe for her performance, despite the fact that her voice was dubbed due to the thickness of her accent.

in 1963, Ursula starred opposite Elvis in his 13th film, Fun In Acapulco , a personal favourite of mine, owing to it's shear ridiculousness.

in this one, Elvis plays an ex trapese artist turned hotel lifeguard, who moonlights as a singer, and must conquer his crippling fear of heights which manifested after a tragic trapese accident in which he dropped his brother to his death, in order to replace a sick cliff diver for the benefit of the tourists. (!)

whilst all of this ensues, Elvis is torn between the daughter of the hotel's chef (Andress) and a local bullfighting star. the film's soundtrack includes such rousing gems as The Bullfighter was a Lady and There's No Room to Rumba in a Sports Car. classic.

Andress dated many of Hollywood's leading men during her career, including co-stars Marlon Brando and James Dean. she and James Dean had an infamously stormy relationship and Dean is reported to have said that he was learning to speak German, so they could argue in two languages :)

Ursula married once, from 1957-1966, to actor/director John Derek. the marriage ended in divorce. in 1980, at the age of 43, Andress gave birth to a son, Dimitri, whose father is actor Harry Hamlin, Ursula's much younger co-star in Clash of the Titans(1981).

after the her son's birth, Ursula focused mostly on European TV and films, whilst raising Dimitri in Rome. her last film role was in 1997. she is now 75 years old.

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