Ah, Miss Barbara Carrera! At the Legatus' school the ideal woman was blonde, big busted and preferably Scandinavian. As my Geography teacher, Spiny Norman, used to say in his engaging Wurzels-type West Country accent "she needs to 'ave knockers like watermelons!" Now, in these days of FHM's sexiest woman and the like it is difficult to comprehend that back in the seventies there were hardly any attractive women, whose name you knew, in the media. There were the Bond actresses and the Page 3 girls (but not in my house!) and, er... Well that was it, really. Nobody knew the names of models then. Attractive singers? I seem to remember the girls from Heart were popular but not that attractive, really. Sports stars? No Eastern European tennis dollies then. We had to make do with Chris Evert who was only attractive in comparison with other sportswomen. TV stars? There was Leela from Dr Who with her little leather outfit but she wasn't actually that attractive either. It would have been impossible to put together a top 10 in those days, let alone a top 100 and half of them would have been from Pan's People.
It's an ill wind that blows no good. Barbara feels the effect of the wind in a blustery Cannes in 1977
But in 1977 along comes another version of HG Wells' (appropriately) The Island of Dr Moreau starring Burt Lancaster and Michael York. Much in evidence in the pre-release publicity shots was a stunning young actress called Barbara Carrera. She made an instant impact on the Legatus.
"Can I stroke your pussy?" says Michael York
Then someone (it could have been Snout) at school brought along the August 1977 Playboy (months later) mainly for a pictorial on porn stars which was unusually explicit for Playboy. Flicking through it we were excited to see a pictorial of Miss Carrera but then rather disappointed with the frankly bizarre beast-themed pictorial inside. I didn't want to see her posed with a strangely made up man. This pictorial started something of a trend and Hustler featured something very similar the following year although, sadly, without Miss Carrera.
Playboy August 1977
From the accompanying article we learned that she was from Nicaragua and had been a fashion model. This explained her exotic looks and world class legs. It was Miss Carrera who opened my eyes to the fact that busty blondes were not necessarily the ultimate manifestation of femininity and, in fact, ever since I have preferred slim, darker women.
On the cover of Vogue Italia 1973
Barbara was actually already 33 when The Island of Dr Moreau came out. Born in Nicaragua in 1944 (although she has been known to take quite a bit off her actual age) to an American father and a Nicaraguan mother her parents separated when she was young and she found herself in the US at an early age. Changing her name from the far from exotic Kingsbury she adopted her mother's maiden name.
She had started work as a model at the age of seventeen for the Ellen Ford agency and had been known to Playboy for some time as she had already appeared on the cover of Italian Playboy in 1973. See had made her first film appearance by then when she appeared in the not too taxing role of a model in the 1970 film Puzzle of a Downfall Child.
Although she had one or two other film appearances the modelling took priority until the Rock Hudson Embryo 1976, her first femme fatale role. Barbara's naked form enhanced the poster significantly. This is a bizarre case where the producers failed to copyright the film so that it is now in the public domain so that anyone can turn out a DVD of it and they do. All with terrible quality, sadly.
From Sex in Cinema Playboy November 1975 with an unappreciative Rock Hudson
From December 1976's Sex Stars pictorial. Also from Embryo
Prior to her Dr Moreau pictorial Playboy had featured her twice in the November 1975 and the December 1976 issues as well.
As a yummy mummy in the world's cleanest frontier fort in Centennial
Her role in The Island of Dr Moreau was high profile enough that she started to get a lot more TV and film work. Next came a role in the mini-series Centennial where her exotic looks got her cast as what we would have then called a Red Indian squaw.
In 1981 she appeared in another period drama, the rather good Masada which, apart from the usual dubious Roman uniforms, was quite enjoyable, although Barbara was somewhat over-dressed for my taste. Still, with cheekbones like that who cares?
This was a magazine favourite!
On display in I, the Jury
Another rush of Carrera posing followed with the release of I, the Jury in 1982. There were many, many pictures of her naked on the bed in the more downmarket film magazines at the time. "And," as Barry Norman probably never said, "why not?" Sadly, this really rather enjoyable film isn't available on DVD.
I, the Jury gave Playboy the excuse to have the pictorial we had been hoping for back in 1977 although, as they often do, they made their celebrity not look like themselves; in this case giving Barbara's lovely long hair a big hair eighties do.
They made up for this inside with the definitive Barbara pictorial, images from which they used for years afterwards. It should be remembered that she is in her late thirties here.
In 1982 she got her definitive role in the alternate James Bond film Never Say Never Again (1982) where she became the finest Bond bad girl ever as Fatima Blush and had the best demise for a villainess in a Bond film as well. It was watching this the other day that inspired me to put her up as my appreciated woman of the week on my blog!
A role in Dallas followed where she had the opportunity to wear some typically over the top fashions as she played yet another femme fatale.
Now 68 (or 59 according to her) she is a keen painter and has had several exhibitions of her work. She continued with regular acting roles until 2004.
She has married and divorced four husbands and seems to have a penchant for European aristocrats.
I never did end up with a black-haired leggy lovely (she is 5'9") but not for want of trying and at least she had the effect of getting me to appreciate all the dark haired lovelies I met in Italy when I was setting up an office in Rome in the eighties (Roman girls were cute but pretty short!).
Never mind, I have the prospect of three to four weeks in Latin America next month so who knows what scenery will be on display there!