Friday, 15 May 2020

Lockdown Ladies from my Facebook posts. Week Two.

Day 8 Julie Ege

Julie Ege was born in Norway in 1943 and started working as a model at the age of sixteen.  She became Miss Norway in 1962 which helped her profile and in 1967 appeared in her first film in Norway.

She moved to London and was the Penthouse Pet of the Month for May 1967 (where they called her Julie Edge),  still sporting her natural brown hair.

She also appeared naked in King magazine in Italy in 1969 (above). As a result of this, er, exposure, she came to the attention of the producers of the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) where she played one of Blofeld's international angels of death

She actually didn't appear in that many films in the UK, her next major role being in Up Pompeii (1971) from which our statuesque publicity still comes.

By this time she had become much blonder, as she would remain, which no doubt helped her get a string of sexy Scandinavian girl roles.

She appeared in The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971) a supposed comedy with seven (obviously) separate stories. Julie was in the 'gluttony' section and had a nude scene with Leslie Phillips, of all people. This section also featured Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, playing a photographer.

She became one of those international dolly-birds of the era and she was always appearing in newspapers like the News of the World, falling out of her clothes, as well as some European magazines.

I remember one newspaper feature in the early seventies where they stranded her on a desert island where she had to fend for herself, usually without the benefit of clothes (above). I actually cut this picture our of the newspaper at the time.

She appeared in the Hammer dinosaur film Creatures the World Forgot (1971) and Hammer, hoping she would be another Raquel Welch, launched a big publicity campaign around her.  By the time the film was made, though, she had just had a baby, was given a terrible dark wig to wear, wasn't feeling well and the crew and cast thought she was being difficult, so they did everything they could to keep her out of shot.

After appearing in one of my favourite seventies films, The Final Programme (1974), she went back to Norway and appeared in films and TV there for a number of years. Later she became a nurse


Day 9 Madeline Smith

Lovely English actress Madeline Smith was working in the trendy store Biba in the sixties when the boss of the store suggested she became a model.

Modellng soon led to some small parts in films at the age of eighteen. Here she is as a fresh faced eighteen year old at home in Kew.

But little girls get bigger every day, as Hammer films soon noticed, casting her in Taste the Blood of Dracula in 1969.  She later claimed that she never went topless in a film but she was a fibber as she did in The Vampire Lovers (1970), a film  made by Hammer to deliberately take advantage of the new 'X' certificate in Britain.

She had a lesbian sex scene with Ingrid Pitt, in the latter but convent educated Madeline later admitted she was a virgin at the time and had no idea how to simulate arousal.

Producers got her to strip for a bath scene in Up Pompeii (1971), as featured in the top picture in this section, much to the delight of all my school friends when this was later shown on TV.

She had a nice line in wide-eyed but big busted innocence in a number of other films and TV shows in the seventies and early eighties, including The Two Ronnies, The Persuaders, Doctor at Large and Jason King.  It was comedy she mainly focussed on and appeared on the big screen in Carry on Matron (1972).

A better actress than many of the other dolly-birds we have featured, she is internationally best known for her appearance in the pre-title sequence of the first Roger Moore Bond, Live and Let Die (1973). She retired in 1985 but in the last few years has had a few more roles.


Day 10 Lesley-Anne Down

One of my mother's favourite TV shows was Upstairs, Downstairs which I endured every week, until a young Lesley-Anne Down joined the cast in 1973 as a very pert nineteen year old.

I remember a scene where her character was making a saucy film dressed in this fetching nineteen twenties outfit, This perky picture of her in that episode actually appeared in TV Times magazine (I know because I cut it out), which you certainly wouldn't get today.

She had won several beauty contests and was voted Britain's Most Beautiful Teenager when she was fifteen.

Before Upstairs Downstairs, she posed for some amateur nude photos for a friend, Peter Douglas (one of Kirk Douglas' sons). She was so nervous at having agreed to pose that she ate constantly beforehand and put on twenty pounds as a result. Mayfair magazine published the pictures without her permission in 1975 on the back of her new fame and a lawsuit soon followed.

Hammer spotted her early on and as a sixteen year old she had a small role in Countess Dracula (1971). She made a number of fairly well known films, my favourite of which was The First Great Train Robbery (1978) where she wore some very anachronistic but entertaining lingerie.

The poor reception to her lead role in Sphinx (1981) knocked her career back but gave us some utterly splendid publicity shots which saw her nearly arrested for posing in Egypt in such a way.

Afterwards, although she did make more films her career was rather more focussed on TV, especially mini-series in the US and I remember a particularly scenery chewing turn in the civil war drama North and South (1985).

I also remember her in The Last Days of Pompeii (1984) but she then appeared in Dallas and this led to a number of American day time soap operas.


Day 11 Valerie Leon

To follow on with our Egyptian theme, here is the magnificent Valerie Leon in a publicity shot from Hammer's Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971). 

She was working in Harrod's department store when she auditioned for a small part in a musical and began working as a chorus girl on stage. This led to film extra work and her first film was the Morecambe and Wise comedy That Riviera Touch (1966) in which she played a girl in a bikini. Interestingly, another of our Lockdown Ladies, Alexandra Bastedo, had an early, uncredited, role in this.

She was a harem girl in Carry on up the Khyber (1968), the first of  six Carry on films she would appear in, with her largest role being in Carry on up the Jungle as a fur clad jungle queen,

Most of her roles were small ones, such as a hotel receptionist in The Italian Job (1969) and she played another hotel receptionist in The Spy who Loved Me (1977). Sh also appeared in the alternative Bond, Never Say Never Again (1983).

Her biggest role was in Hammer's Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971) in which she played two parts. Her reluctance to strip off effected her further use by Hammer at the time and in British sex comedies of the period which her contemporaries appeared in.

See did a lot of TV work, including The Persuaders,  Special Branch and Space:1999 but mainly appeared in comedy shows.

For me she is best remembered as the girl from the Hai Karate aftershave TV advertisements which ran every Christmas for seven years in the seventies and provided her with a significant income due to repeat fees.


Day 12 Gabrielle Drake

British actress Gabrielle Drake was actually born in Lahore, India, where her father was an engineer but the family moved back to Britain when she was eight. Having studied at RADA she began a stage career in the mid sixties.

She made her first big impact in UFO in 1970 and, despite many other roles, it is this that she is probably still best known for. making a striking entrance in the first episode where she does a semi striptease on Moonbase.

In the early seventies, unlike Valerie Leon, as mentioned above, she appeared in a number of British sex comedies including Connecting Rooms (1970) where she played an artist's model, as seen in our first picture and above.

She had a bigger rle in Au Pair Girls (1972) (above) which was directed by Hammer stalwart Val Guest who had directed when Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970) and parts of Casino Royale (1967).

She only made a couple more film appearances after Au Pair Girls and mainly did stage work, with some TV work in the seventies and eighties including a two year stint on the soap Crossroads in the mid-eighties.


Day 13 Jenny Agutter

I first became aware of Miss Agutter when she appeared in the BBC adaption of The Railway Children in 1968 and the family all went to the cinema, unusually for a a non-Bond film, to see the film version, two years later.

I remember seeing trailers for Logan's Run (1977) at the cinema but didn't see it at the time and really only knew is from all the SF cinema books that were published in the wake of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977.  

I must have seen it on TV some time later and think I have only seen it once.  I don't have it in my DVD collection and should give it another viewing, if only for Miss Agutter's outfits.

She spent a decade in America after this, making Hollywood films and TV and I do remember going to see An American Werewolf in London (1981) with a girlfriend in Oxford but she didn't like it at all, even though it was her choice.  It was the first time I had seen Agutter in anything since The Railway Children so was something of a surprise!

She returned to England in the nineties and fitted TV roles around family life and in 2000 appeared in another version of The Railway Children, this time playing the mother.  I think the last thing I saw her in was an episode of Poirot from about fifteen years ago.

Latterly she has had a regular role in the BBC's Call the Midwife which I have never seen, as it is a girl's programme.


Day 14 Elke Sommer

Elke Sommer is one of those European actresses whose name you know but you then struggle to remember any of the films she has appeared in. Von Ryan's Express (1965), from which this publicity shot comes, is one of those films that always seemed to be on TV at Christmas but I don't think I have ever seen it.

For our purposes it was her appearance in the Matt Helm film The Wrecking Crew (1969) that saw her appear as a Lockdown Lady and she appeared in a number of similar spy films in the sixties, including Deadlier than the Male (1967) with Sylva Koscini.

She certainly had a number of Hollywood generic European roles although she was discovered in Italy by film director Vittorio De Sica, when she was on holiday, as a teenager.  She soon changed her name from the very Teutonic Elke Baronin von Schletz. 

Most of her work in the seventies was back in European films although she became the highest paid actress to appear in a Carry On film in 1975's Carry on Behind.

Since the eighties she has concentrated more on painting than acting and now lives in Los Angeles. As you can see, she was always happy to pose for revealing photographs for magazines and appeared in Playboy pictorials several times.



  1. Always entertaining articles you produce.

  2. Splendid! No mention of Jenny in Walkabout? The end scene in the water hole was a stirring moment in the much much younger Steve the Wargamer's life! :o))

  3. What a cracking selection! I had a real crush on Miss Agutter as The Railway Children quickly followed up by Walkabout coincided with the upwelling of teenage hormones. I'd forgotten about the Julie Ege "Desert Island" thing - I suspect it might have been in the Sunday Mirror because we weren't a News of the World household? My particular favourite is Gabrielle Drake and she is still a very striking beauty. I've been spending far too much of the lockdown online searching out obscure British 60s and 70s films featuring many of these girls (including Miss Down before she added the "Anne").

    1. Ah the Sunday Mirror would mean I saw it at my Uncle Len's house!