Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Girls of Grindhouse: Britt Ekland

I know what you're thinking.  Britt Ekland?  She's a Bond girl, not one of the Girls of Grindhouse.  Au contraire, mon frere for she has been in more than a couple of grindhouse films.

Britt Ekland was born in Stockholm, Sweden on October 6, 1942.  In her youth she attended a drama school which eventually led to her joining a traveling acting group where she gained some measure of fame in Italy, but it wasn't until she became the significant other of British actor and comedian Peter Sellers that she became a celebrity.

After seeing her photograph in a newspaper, Sellers arranged a meeting in London and was immediately smitten.  The two married shortly thereafter and it is said that he had a heart attack on their wedding night, but that can't be confirmed.  He did however suffer from thirteen heart attacks in a matter of days shortly after they were married.

The two made a daughter and a couple of films together.  The little girl was called Victoria and the films were called Caccia alla volpe (1966) or After the Fox which was written by Neil Simon, and The Bobo (1967).  They divorced in 1968.

After gaining attention for her performance as an Amish striptease artist in 1968's The Night They Raided Minsky's, Ekland was offered many more roles but these were often because of her looks instead of her acting ability.  She did star in some first rate films including Get Carter (1971) and The Wicker Man (1973), but her most famous role came in 1974 when she played Bond girl Mary Goodnight in The Man with the Golden Gun.

Around this time she became romantically involved with rock/disco/whatever star Rod Stewart and temporarily left her acting career to focus on the relationship.  Things didn't work out and the two separated after living together for two years.  In 1979 she started seeing and eventually became engaged to glam metal vocalist Phil Lewis.  They broke up in 1981.  In 1984 she married rocker Slim Jim Phantom, who was almost twenty years younger. They had a son, Thomas Jefferson in 1988 but they divorced in 1992.

Britt Ekland was one of the biggest celebrities of the 1970s but by the mid 1980s the quality of the film roles offered to her had diminished significantly.  Besides made for TV movies she starred in some cinematic crap like Fraternity Vacation (1985) and Beverly Hills Vamp (1989).

In the 2004 film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers the role of Ekland was played by Charlize Theron and later, Ekland accompanied Theron to the Cannes Film Festival as her date. Also in 2004, she was diagnosed with osteoporosis after falling and fracturing both her wrist and ankle at an awards show.  Today she is involved with both osteoporosis and Alzheimer's organizations.  Even with her health concerns, Ekland is still a regular fixture on the British rock'n'roll social scene.

And if you're wondering which of her films are considered "grindhouse" films, The Grindhouse Cinema Database says Get Carter (1971), The Wicker Man (1973),  Asylum (1972),  Machine Gun McCain (1968), and Slavers (1978).

Here's Rod Stewart's package to haunt your dreams.