Series 3 — Bonus
Honor Blackman’s Book of Self Defence
by Honor Blackman with Joe & Douglas Robinson, photos by Brian Worth
As you will have noticed, throughout much of series 2 and 3 there were set pieces demonstrating Honor Blackman’s prowess with Judo.
On the surface, these are demonstrations of her great skills outside acting - which, of course, they are - but they also seem to be a subtle advertisement for her upcoming book, Honor Blackman’s Book of Self Defence, first published by André Deutsch Ltd in London in 1965.
The first edition was a hardback with illustrated dust jacket over red cloth covered boards with gilt. It contains in-text monochromatic photos by Brian Worth throughout and ran to 127 pages. The illustrated dust jacket of the first edition had Honor on the front cover, wearing an orange dress as she throws Joe Robinson, dressed in black, with a Judo manoeuvre. The back of the dust jacket has a monochrome promotion photo from Goldfinger, showing her throwing James Bond in the barn scene with the crew in the background. The caption below it reads "Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) in action: the girl who can give James Bond a fall like this can really take care of herself - the scene is from Goldfinger. A small reference notes that the photograph is by courtesy of the Daily Sketch. The jacket was designed by Cameron Poulterl.
There was a release of the book in 1966 by Macmillan Company, New York, 1966 with a striking black dust jacket with Honor in a white judo gi. This has the subtitle In which the striking actress demonstrates "Defense Galore", in reference to her Pussy Galore character in Goldfinger. The back of the dust jacket had the same photo from Goldfinger, showing her throwing James Bond in the barn scene, as the English edition. Underneath the dust jacket were black cloth covered boards with an indented white silhouette of Honor in a fighting stance. Some USA editions appear with the imprint of Bell Publishing, New York rather than The Macmillan Company but appear to be otherwise the same edition.
You may read the whole of Honor Blackman’s Book of Self Defence, Macmillan 1966 edition (PDF 7.53MB).
Later on, there was a Penguin 1967 paperback edition with an orange cover for the mass market audience. This edition was 134 pages long and retained the photographs by Brian Worth. The front cover had an inset colour photogrgraph of Honor, dressed in a paisley minidress, throwing the unfortunate Joe, this time wearing a sky blue jumper, pale blue shirt, and grey trousers.
A later Penguin edition was identical except that it switched the orange front cover for a bright red cover and was 136 pages long.
The copyright was listed as Copyright © 1965 text and photographs Lega Productions Ltd and Joe and Doug Robinson, so the Robinson brothers earned a fair amount of the proceeds from the book. You will no doubt remember both Joe and Doug from their many scenes with Honor throughout series 3, mostly being thrown about the set by her! Joe and Doug were noted stuntmen of the British film and television industry and would continue to appear in many productions for many years to come. It doesn’t specify, but I would assume that Brian Worth kept ownership of his photographs.
On November 22 1965 Honor Blackman held a publicity event in Manchester which was covered by The Daily Mirror:
Honor Blackman, actress, in Manchester to launch her book on self defence, inspired by her success as judo expert Cathy Gale in TV series The Avengers, pictured in her suite, the Piccadilly Hotel, Manchester, Monday 22nd November 1965. Book Titled, Honor Blackman's Book of Self-Defence.
I don't have a copy of the article itself, and I assume the Mirror was not the only paper that covered her publicity tour.
The May 20 1966 edition of LIFE magazine ran a two-page article in its Books section (pp. 127-8) entitled Honor’s Judo Defense of Honor by Michael E. Smith, proving that Americans really can’t spell at all. It was illustrated with ten photographs from the book, showing three judo moves plus two additional shots. The article states that the book was release the previous fall in England, intended as a novelty item but becoming something of a best-seller.
Judo appeals to a ghastly streak of violence which I think everyone has.
This quote is followed by mention of her TV roughhousing has appealed to female aggressions all over Britain and started a trend for leather clothing that resulted in shoes going up in price due to a leather shortage. It culminates in more casual sexism but is a fairly entertaining read if taken with a grain of salt. The contents at the front of the magazine lists it as “The Goldfinger heroine writes a best-seller on judo.”
On screen judo
Honor Blackman was famous for her judo scene with Sean Connery in Goldfinger but she was already famous long before that for her skills, and made the press in 1964 when she accidentally knocked out the wrestler Jackie Pallo while in rehearsals for Mandrake. Here then is a cursory and no doubt incomplete list of her judo.
There’s a bit of judo from other characters - Dr Keel, Steed, Mrs Peel, Tara King, and Purdey and Mike Gambit, plus some incidental characters, but I will restrict this just to Cathy. There are of course other, more fleeting, examples of her getting the upper hand, as it were.
- Mr Teddy Bear: Cathy and Steed practice judo at his flat, she has to use her skill to force him away when he gets a bit amorous.
- Bullseye: Karl surprises Cathy while she’s searching the yacht but she flings him to the ground.
- The Mauritius Penny: Cathy hits Brown with a karate blow in order to escape.
- Death of a Great Dane: one of Getz’s assistants attacks Cathy and she fights him off.
- Death on the Rocks: Cathy breaks into Nicky’s workshop and has just found some rough stones on the floor when Sid, played by Doug Robinson, surprises her. They fight and she’s just getting the upper hand when Nicky enters.
- The Big Thinker: Cathy fights Broster, who is hiding in her flat.
- The Golden Eggs: Hillier points a gun at Cathy, but gets too close and she disarms him then fights him off.
- Six Hands Across a Table: Cathy is attacked by a thug waiting in the dark in Collier’s draughting room but she fights him off and then finds Brian lying on the floor his office.
- Killer Whale: Cathy fights Harry to prevent his escape.
- Concerto: Cathy spots Robbins fumbling with a gun and stops him using it with a karate blow.
- The Golden Fleece: Cathy defeats Sergeant-Major Wright with some judo.
- Death à la Carte: Cathy distracts Mellor by throwing a lightbulb, then overpowers him.
- Man with Two Shadows: Cathy fights Rudi, played by Doug Robinson, around the fountain in the Vienna Room.
- The Grandeur That Was Rome: Steed and Cathy defeat the soldiers.
- The Undertakers: Cathy stops Lomax from retrieving his gun.
- Death Of A Batman: Cathy defeats Cooper after he tries to grab her when she’s photographing Wrightson’s bedroom.
- November Five: Max, played by Joe Robinson, grabs Cathy to try to make her talk and she fights him off. Earlier in the episode she was attacked in the gym by the false assassin, played by Frank Maher.
- Second Sight: Cathy defeats the henchman Brewer in a fight.
- The Secrets Broker: Bruno sees Cathy following, and intercepts her, but Cathy overcomes him with judo and knocks him out.
- The Medicine Men: Cathy sustains a black eye while fighting off the thugs who find Steed and her inside the printing company.
- Mandrake: Cathy is attacked in the churchyard by the sexton, whom she fights off and defeats. This is the scene in which Honor accidentally knocked Jackie Pallo out when he hit his head on the studio’s concrete floor. The press variously reported him as being knocked out for four or seven minutes.
- The Charmers: Not judo this time, but fencing, in the climactic battle at the end of the episode.
- Esprit De Corps: Cathy ably demonstrates defeating an assailant armed with a knife at the civil defence class, the assailant is Sgt Marsh, played by Doug Robinson and the shot is almost picture by picture with one technique demonstrated in the book.