The James Bond franchise may draw its popularity from the array of suave-looking and martini-drinking leading men but there is no denying the part that its Bond ladies have also contributed to the franchise’s legacies. They are renowned for their exquisite combination of beauty and danger and the person who laid the foundation was none other than Ursula Andress.
A Swiss-born actress, Ursula first commenced her career in Europe before making it to America. Even though initially hampered by language barriers, she was able to break through and enjoy success between the ’60s and ’80s. She also grabbed the headlines with several fascinating, and sometimes scandalous, romantic liaisons along the way. Andress has now largely retreated from the spotlight but there is no denying the fact that she lived that life to the fullest.
From Nanny To European Movie Starlet
Ursula Andress was born on the 19th of March 1936 in Ostermundigen, Bern, Switzerland. Her parents were originally from Germany. Her mother, Anna, was a landscaper while her dad, Rolf was a German diplomat. Andress is the third of six children and has four sisters and a brother. She spent her formative years in the Swiss capital of Berne, obtaining her education. Ursula speaks several languages such as French, Italian, and German.
Upon completing her education, she spent a year in Paris before moving on to Rome where she became a nanny. While in Rome, Andress caught the eye of a filmmaker who asked her to audition for a movie role. She gave a good account of herself in the audition and was given a minor role in an Italian movie, An American in Rome (1954). She went on to do more movies in Italy before moving to Hollywood.
She Made History As The First-ever Bond Girl
In Hollywood, Andress found it difficult landing roles because she did not speak English. Her Swiss-German accent did not also help matters. These challenges persisted until 1962 when she landed the role of Honey Ryder, Bond’s love interest/sidekick in the first James Bond movie, Dr. No.
In an iconic scene from the movie, Andress, a shell diver, rose out of the Caribbean Sea spotting a two-piece white bikini with a large knife strapped to her waist. This cemented the long-standing reputation of the Bond Girl as someone beautiful and strong. It also went down in history as one of the most iconic bikini moments in movies, as well as one of the greatest sexy moments in movies.
Andress herself would later acknowledge that she owed her career success to that bikini and one would not argue with that fact – seeing that her performance fetched her the 1964 Golden Globe Award for the New Star of the Year. It also opened up the doors for her to have her pick of juicy roles in the years to come.
Her Reign As The Ultimate Sex Symbol Of The 70s And 80s
It must be pointed out that at the time Ursula Andress played the role of Bond Girl, she still had an accent and her character was voiced by other people. She, however, continued working on her English and was able to voice her parts in subsequent films.
Between the 60s and 80s, the Swiss native went on to land starring roles in movies such as Fun in Acapulco (1964 which featured Elvis Presley), Nightmare in the Sun (1965), She (1965), What’s New Pussycat (1965), The 10th Victim (1965), The Blue Max (1966), The Southern Star (1969), Perfect Friday (1970), Slave of the Cannibal God (1978) and Aphrodite (1981).
Andress is a lady who is very comfortable in her skin. She never shied away from playing sensual and nude roles. For instance, in The Blue Max, she played the horny wife of a German general. In the Sensuous Nurse (1975), she played a hot nurse who is hired to seduce an old wealthy man to death. Andress also posed for Playboy more than once. All this helped to cement her reputation as a sex symbol of her time.
How Much Is The Former Bond Girl Worth?
Ursula Andress has a net worth of $25 million. She made her fortune from her modelling gigs, most notably posing for Playboy, but the lion’s share of her wealth comes from her acting career which spans roughly five decades
Upon commencing her Hollywood career, Andress signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures which paid her $287 per week. She thereafter moved on to Columbia Pictures for a deal that did not pay anything significantly higher.
Following her breakout on Dr. No, Andress became better positioned to land movie roles without tying herself contractually to any studio. She, therefore, started commanding better fees and enjoyed financial independence that not many could have boasted of at that time. That financial independence persisted to date, resulting in the current fortune that she has amassed.
A Breakdown Of The Actress’ Love Life
Ursula Andress has been involved in dozens of well-documented romantic relationships, often with her co-stars, but she only made it to the altar once.
Her Affair, Marriage and Divorce From John Derek
The actress’ first publicized relationship was with Hollywood director, John Derek. As at the time they commenced their relationship in 1955, Derek was married with two daughters and left his family to be with Ursula. This raised a few eyebrows but no one could stop two consenting adults from carrying on as they wanted. The pair, therefore, wed in Las Vegas in 1957 and resumed marital life together. Their union lasted for about seven years before they separated in 1964.
Their separation was a result of the fact that the actress had an affair with one of her co-stars named Ron Ely. This marked the point of no return and they divorced in 1966. Following her separation from Derek, Ursula went on to date two actors (John Richardson and Marcello Mastroianni) in quick succession. Both were actors whom she had shared the screens with and their romance commenced right from the set. It, however, lasted for just a few months and in the year 1965, the Bond Girl commenced a relationship with the French actor, Jean-Paul Belmondo.
Her Seven-year Romance with Jean-Paul Belmondo
Belmondo is an award-winning actor who dominated the French movie industry between the 60s and 80s. He featured in movies such as Breathless and That Man From Rio, and received several awards for his works. Belmondo and Andress first crossed paths on the set of the 1965 French comedy-adventure film, Up To His Ears, which they both co-starred in. They took a fancy to each other and Belmondo left his wife, Elodie, and three children to be with the actress.
They eventually moved in together and their relationship lasted for about seven years before they called it quits in 1972. From 1973 to 1978, Andress dated several actors, including Fabio Testi, John Delorean, Helmut Berger, Ricci Martin, and Ryan O’Neal. It was, however, her romance with O’Neal that particularly stood out. She and the American boxer-turned-actor first dated from 1972 to 1973. They broke up only to rekindle their romance in 1977. It, however, ended the next year with unconfirmed allegations that O’Neal had gotten physically abusive.
Engagement to Harry Hamlin and the Birth of Their Son
In 1979, Andress commenced a relationship with American actor, Harry Hamlin. She and Harry met on the set of the film, Clash of the Titans, and quickly commenced a romantic affair. Their 15-year-age difference caused quite a stir but the duo couldn’t care less. They moved in together in a one-bedroom cottage in Hollywood’s Laurel Canyon and welcomed a son, Dimitri Hamlin, born on the 19th of May 1980.
The couple subsequently got engaged but they never tied the knot as Hamlin called off the engagement in 1983. In a subsequent interview with People Magazine, Ursula revealed that she very much wanted to settle down but Hamlin seemed keen on going out with other women. The actress also admitted that she may have been a bit possessive and that Hamlin was focused on taking his career to greater heights
A Glimpse At Ursula Andress’ Love Life in Recent Times
Following her breakup from Hamlin, Ursula stated that love affairs and husbands can end but that a child was forever. She also revealed that her son is the only love of her life, and these words have come true. Since breaking off things with Hamlin, the former Bond Girl has gone on to date a diverse array of men, including a real estate guru, soccer player, and martial arts expert. All these romances have crashed and burnt and the one constant thing in her life is her son Dimitri.
Dimitri is said to be a spitting image of his dad, Harry. He is very intelligent and he studied philosophy at Princeton. Also, he has followed his parents’ footsteps into showbiz as he has appeared in a few movies, TV shows, and music videos. Dimitri has also dabbled into Deejaying and modelling. The young man remains close to his parents who often get together to celebrate important stuff such as birthdays.
See Also: 5 Smartest James Bond Actors and their Timeline
Where Is Ursula Andress Now?
Ursula Andress has stepped back from the spotlight in recent years. After featuring in a slew of movies in the 90s, her screen appearances have been rare. Her last movie appearance was in a 2005 movie titled The Bird Preachers. As a result of her disappearance from the spotlight, many have wondered if she is still alive.
Well, she is very much alive. She sometimes appears at charity events and talk shows. She also occasionally grants interviews and often makes the rounds at international film festivals. The former Bond Girl was spotted at the Rome Film Festival Gala in November 2017. She also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. No in 2012. Andress splits her time between Europe and the U.S.