The first Bond girl. Quite a distinction. When Ursula Andress played Honey Ryder in Dr. No, her first moments on the screen became an instant Bond classic. If you’ve seen them, you remember them: Ursula, as Honey, walks out of the ocean, her blond hair slicked back with saltwater, wearing a white bikini and carrying shells in each hand. That part’s all Ursula – what some people don’t know, though, is that because of her heavy Swiss accent, the directors used another woman’s voice for the character.
Really, though, it’s all about the white bikini anyway. “This bikini made me into a success,” Ursula told The Daily Telegraph as she was preparing to auction it off in 2001, 39 years after the movie debuted. “As a result of starring in Dr. No as the first Bond girl, I was given the freedom to take my pick of future roles and to become financially independent.” The bikini sold for about $60,000.
After “Dr. No,” Ursula went on to pose for Playboy (check out her June 1965 cover, a 12-page eye-filling pictorial) and co-starred in films with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin—like Fun in Acapulco, The 10th Victim, and She.
She was married to actor and director John Derek from 1957 to 1966. After Ursula had a son, Dimitri, with Clash of the Titans co-star Harry Hamlin, she reined in her acting and limited it mostly to European films. As recently as the 1990s, she was still appearing in Italian made-for-TV movies.
In a 2008 interview with The Daily Mail in which she revealed she has osteoporosis and urged people to take preventative steps against the degenerative bone disease, she described the things she likes most (and wants to be able to keep doing for the foreseeable future). “I am passionate about life and the things I love, such as my garden at my home in Italy, tending to my animals, and seeing my friends.”