A Royal Assist: Prince Philip’s Unwitting Role in Goldfinger’s Censorship Battle
In a daring move, the masterminds behind the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger ingeniously maneuvered around American censorship to preserve the provocative name of Honor Blackman’s character, Pussy Galore.
Despite the blatant provocation, producers Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and director Guy Hamilton were determined to bring Ian Fleming’s character from his 1959 novel to the big screen.
To prepare for possible objections, they devised a backup plan to change her name to Kitty Galore and softened the character’s background and sexuality from the source material. The turning point came at the movie’s London premiere, where Eon Productions’ publicity representative, Carlile, hatched a clever scheme to preempt American censors.
Time for The Prince and The Pussy
Carlile negotiated a deal with UK newspapers for an exclusive photograph of Honor Blackman with Prince Philip at the premiere, captioned either ‘Pussy and the Prince’ or ‘The Prince and the Pussy’.
Then at the premiere, the Duke of Edinburgh was talking with Honor, while gesturing broadly with his arm. She misunderstood, believing he was imitating the martial arts skills she had become famous for in the TV show The Avengers.
Adopting a judo greeting stance, Honor confidently replied, “Yes, I certainly can,” which amused the Duke and fellow guests Leslie Phillips, Millicent Martin, and Richard Attenborough. The following day, there were pictures of them together with headlines around the world just as they had hoped: “The Prince and The Pussy.”
Capitalizing on the publicity, Bond producer Cubby Broccoli traveled to America with a folder of newspaper clippings and presented them to film censor Geoffrey Shurlock, who then had little ground for objections.
Producers, however, did not entirely escape constraints. In America, they were barred from using the character’s name on promotional material for Goldfinger. Instead, they referred to her as Miss Galore.
Honor Blackman, on the other hand, delighted in dropping the name Pussy Galore in many interviews during her promotional duties for the movie. She recalls, when hosts hesitated to utter the character’s cheeky name, Honor would interject and cheekily ask, “Oh, you mean Pussy Galore?”
Goldfinger ultimately achieved the blockbuster status in the US that the producers had hoped for, and Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore character has become an enduring part of pop culture lore.
The film itself didn’t shy away from highlighting the character’s name. The iconic scene where Honor Blackman introduces herself to Sean Connery on screen for the first time is a testament to the boldness of the Bond team.
Watch the iconic scene where Pussy Galore introduces herself
Things Have Gotten Less Risqué Since
The Bond team has since treaded more carefully with character names, although several have pushed the envelope, including Plenty O’Toole, Mary Goodnight, Holly Goodhead, and Jenny Flex. Octopussy‘s title character also tested boundaries, but the era of rigorous censorship that followed ensured a more cautious approach.
There have been a few daring names in recent times, too, such as Xenia Onatopp (played by Famke Janssen) in GoldenEye (1995). The name might not be as bold as Pussy Galore, but the character’s sexual sociopathic tendencies were rather risqué, but luckily for Bond he didn’t end up one of her victims.