Ursula Andress: 50 years of 007 on the big screen

When Ursula Andress first appeared in Dr No, emerging from the Caribbean dressed in a white bikini, she not only got the pulses of millions racing, but also set the standard by which every following Bond girl would be judged. Cast as Honey Ryder, she helped launch what would eventually become one of the world’s most successful movie franchises and her grace, beauty and command of the role, despite her dialogue being voiced over, helped earn her a Golden Globe.

Andress was born in the Swiss canton of Berne in 1936 to a Swiss mother and German father, a diplomat. Growing up with five siblings, she was stunningly beautiful even in her early years, and started out as a model posing for artists in Rome. It was during this period that her first stint with movies began when she was cast in her first role at the age of 18. She went on to feature in two other Italian movies playing small roles before moving to the US, where she signed a contract with Columbia Pictures.

In 1957, at the age of 20, Andress met and married John Derek, an actor who at the time was a rising star. Although her husband continued making movies, Andress dropped out of the movie industry for a number of years; when she returned, in Dr No, she did so with a bang.

After a highly publicized affair with Jean Belmondo, a French actor, her marriage to Derek ended. Although she had no children during her marriage with Derek, she later on had a son with Harry Hamlin, her costar in Clash of the Titans, at the age of 45.

Andress went on to star in dozens of other movies including the Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967) where she appeared as Vesper Lynd as well as the 1981 hit, Clash of the Titans, where she played the role of Aphrodite next to the onscreen legend Sir Laurence Olivier.

Thanks to her rich heritage and vast exposure, Andress is fluent in Italian, French, English and German. Even after five decades, appreciation for Andress’s contribution to the James Bond legend is still high to this day; in 1995 she was listed among the “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History” by the Empire Magazine, while in 2003, her entrance in Dr No was voted by viewers of the UK’s Channel 4 into top place in a poll to find the “100 Greatest Sexy Moments” on film.

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