Monday, April 4, 2011

Girls of Grindhouse: Barbara Bouchet

Barbara Bouchet was born Barbara Goutscher on August 15, 1943 in Riechenberg, Sudetenland in what was then Germany and is now the Czech Republic. She is an actress known especially for her roles in 1970s gialli, poliziotteschi, and commedia erotica all'italiana or Italian sex comedies.  She is fluent in English, German, and Italian.
After WWII her family was placed in an American controlled resettlement camp where they received permission to emigrate to the United States and eventually settled in San Francisco. When the 1959 film Gidget became a hit, a local San Francisco television station held a beauty and talent contest to crown a teenage girl as "Miss Gidget" on the "Dick Stewart Television Show."  Barbara won and was also offered the chance to be one of the regular dancers on the rock 'n' roll show "The KPIX Dance Party." She was on the show from 1959 until 1962.  She then moved to Hollywood to make a name for herself, but not with her Germanic last name.  She changed that to the French sounding Bouchet.

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database:
"Bouchet began her professional acting career as a model on magazine covers and an actress in TV commercials. She made her film debut with an uncredited bit part in the comedy What a Way to Go! (1964). She went on to play a sexy version of Miss Moneypenny in the comedic James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967), and had guest spots on such TV series like "The Virginian" (1962), "Star Trek" (1966), "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" (1964), and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." (1964). In 1970, Barbara moved to Italy and became one of the country's biggest stars.
 For classic exploitation film fans she is widely known as a stunning beauty who has had memorable parts in Italian genre films like the gialli The Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971), The Red Queen Kills 7 Times,  Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) and poliziotteschi (Italian crime-action films) such as Caliber 9 (1972), Ricco the Mean Machine (1973) and Death Rage (1976)."

She continued her acting career in the 1980s mainly on Italian television and in 1985 she founded a production company which released a successful series of fitness and healthy lifestyle books and videos.  In addition, Barbara opened a fitness studio in Rome.  In 2002 she returned to the big screen, playing Mrs. Schermerhorn in Martin Scorsese's gritty epic Gangs of New York.

With the release of many of her films on DVD and Blu-ray, her status as a cult film legend continues to grow.  She still lives in Rome with her family and continues to work in the film and television industry.