Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, a “damn good pilot”
Fort Knox, Kentucky, Fall 1964
Release Date: September 18, 1964
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Supervisor: Elsa Fennell
Today would have been the 96th birthday of the late Honor Blackman, best known for her role as Cathy Gale on the second and third seasons of The Avengers, which she left to star in her iconic performance in Goldfinger as Pussy Galore, the assertive aviator who transforms from enemy to ally of Sean Connery’s James Bond.
Arguably one of the most famous (and most famously named) women of the Bond franchise, the high-flying judo expert Pussy Galore established a new type of “Bond girl”, a tough, action-oriented equal rather than the demure damsel in distress. Pussy also nearly equals the stylish secret agent with her strong wardrobe, primarily comprised of tailored jackets and slacks, apropos her profession that still carried masculine connotations in the early 1960s.
What’d She Wear?
Several scenes after Mr. Bond himself sped through the Swiss countryside in his brown tweed sports coat and cavalry twill trousers, Pussy Galore debuted her own variation of the outfit for an afternoon at Auric Goldfinger’s stud farm in Kentucky, trading the coarse tweed for a softer but equally sporty corduroy and swapping 007’s shirt and tie for a more figure-friendly turtleneck.
Constructed from a warm tan medium-waled corduroy, Pussy’s thigh-length jacket has notch lapels that end high above a three-button front, as well as three-button cuffs and flapped hip pockets.
Similar to equestrian jackets, the corduroy jacket is tailored to flatter with structured shoulders, a pulled-in waist, and flared skirt that highlights Blackman’s hourglass figure. Even if Pussy’s clothing is initially coded more masculine, the tailoring still emphasizes her female figure… which would be further showcased when Goldfinger asks Pussy to change into clothing that would more entice Bond’s prurient interest.
Pussy wears an oatmeal-colored melange turtleneck, woven in a soft, fine fabric, possibly merino wool. The sleeves have long, finely ribbed cuffs, and she wears the hem tucked into her high-rise trousers. When 007-approved knitwear brand N.Peal launched its cashmere collection inspired by 50 years of Bond, this particular sweater received an update as a mock-neck jumper made of sand-colored Mongolian cashmere.
Continuing the equestrian associations of her jacket, Pussy wears a pair of tight beige trousers similar to riding breeches, with a long rise and an extended waistband tab with a hidden hook-and-eye fastener. These pants have slanted front pockets but no back pockets, and they taper down each leg to the plain-hemmed bottoms which have gold-toned zippers extending up a few inches on the outside of each leg.
Pussy’s tan suede Chelsea boots have raised heels and brown elastic side gussets. When she reclines with Goldfinger to enjoy her mint julep, we get a glimpse of her hosiery, which appear to be black-and-white socks that diverge from the earthy tones in the rest of her outfit.
Not worn with this outfit but worth mentioning is Pussy’s Rolex GMT Master watch, which adds a sense of verisimilitude given her profession and the history of the GMT Master, which had been developed a decade earlier in collaboration with Pan Am so that pilots and navigators could have a reliable 24-hour timepiece while flying around the world.
Due to its use in Goldfinger, the ref. 6542 GMT Master has become known in the horological community as the “Rolex Pussy Galore”. As the first GMT Master, ref. 6542 was produced from 1954 to 1959 in a variety of metal, bezel, and dial combinations, but Pussy wears the all-stainless steel watch with the blue-and-red “Pepsi” bakelite bezel, stainless “Oyster”-style three-piece link bracelet, and black dial with luminous non-numeric hour markers and a 3:00 date window.
To see another iconic GMT Master in action, check out last week’s post featuring Tom Selleck in Magnum, P.I.
Before their landing in Kentucky, Bond emerges from the bathroom on Goldfinger’s personal plane only for Pussy Galore to greet him with a Smith & Wesson Model 22.
Pussy: Do you want to play it easy or the hard way? And this isn’t a tranquilizer gun.
Bond: Now, Pussy, you know a lot more about planes than guns. That’s a Smith & Wesson .45, and if you fire at me at this close range, the bullet will pass through me and the fuselage like a blowtorch through butter. The cabin will depressurize, and we’ll both be sucked into outer space together. If that’s how you want to enter the United States, you’re welcome. As for me, I prefer the easy way.
Pussy: That’s very sensible.
Aside from establishing the myth-busted science that would be revisited for Goldfinger‘s finale, the scene also provides Mr. Bond with one of his beloved opportunities to show off. Indeed, Pussy stands before him armed with a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson, specifically the Model 22, which was introduced in 1950 as a commercial evolution of the World War I-era M1917 revolver. The M1917 was a unique military revolver, referring to models produced by both Colt and Smith & Wesson to supplement the newly developed M1911 service pistols. Smith & Wesson adapted its .44 Hand Ejector to fit the rimless .45 ACP cartridge, which had been designed specifically for semi-automatic pistols like the 1911 series and thus required half-moon clips for easier loading.
Smith & Wesson continued production of the M1917 after the war, reintroducing this improved civilian version as the “Model 1950”, built on the company’s large N-frame and re-designated the Model 22 later in the decade. Like its predecessor, the Model 22 was loaded with half- and full-moon clips specifically to fit six rimless .45 ACP cartridges in the shortened cylinder.
Though Pussy isn’t armed when she and Goldfinger’s guards discover Bond has escaped from his room, her fast judo abilities land Bond flat on his face and his commandeered Walther P38 returned to her.
Seemingly the standard sidearm carried by Goldfinger’s henchmen, the 9mm P38 semi-automatic pistol was developed in Germany during the lead-up to World War II, intended to replace the iconic but aging Luger pistol.
What to Imbibe
Ever the gregarious host, Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) serves refreshments to friends and foe alike, drinking in the Kentucky setting with a Mint Julep that he describes as “traditional but satisfying.” He serves one to Pussy and even one to Bond, who requests “sour mash, but not too sweet, please.”
The mint julep is one of the most venerated cocktails in the history of American drinking, dating back to the late 18th century as a spirited concoction for southerners to beat the heat. Kentucky bourbon has arguably emerged as the preferred base spirit, though gin and rum have also been mentioned in the annals of julep history.
Today, the IBA-specified mint julep calls for four mint leaves, a teaspoon of powdered sugar, and two teaspoons of water to be muddled in a highball glass, filled with crushed ice, and then topped with two ounces of bourbon and stirred until the glass is cold, when it’s topped with a mint sprig and enjoyed. (Traditionalists may prefer a silver or pewter cup, held only by the top and bottom edges to avoid transferring too much heat to the drink.)
How to Get the Look
Pussy Galore dresses comfortably but professionally for an afternoon spent on a stud farm, and the sensibilities of her equestrian-themed outfit could easily transfer to a man’s clothing.
- Tan corduroy single-breasted 3-button jacket with notch lapels, flapped hip pockets, and 3-button cuffs
- Oatmeal melange merino wool turtleneck sweater
- Beige flat front high-rise riding trousers with side pockets and zip-side bottoms
- Tan suede high-heeled Chelsea boots
- Black-and-white socks
- Rolex GMT Master ref. 6542 stainless steel watch with blue-and-red “Pepsi” bezel, black bakelite dial (with 3:00 date window), and steel “Oyster”-style three-piece link bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.