03 February 2014

Daniela Bianchi

Beautiful Daniela Bianchi (1942) is an Italian actress, whose best known part was luscious Soviet cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova in the James Bond film From Russia with Love (1963). She played in several more Eurospy films during the 1960s.

Sean Connery
British postcard by Klasik Kards, London, no. 1543. Photos: publicity stills for From Russia with Love (Terence Young, 1963) with Sean Connery and Martine Beswick.

1st Runner-up

Daniela Bianchi was born in Rome, Italy in 1942. She grew up the only child of an army Colonel. After graduating from high school Bianchi found a passion for ballet before launching into a modelling career.

Her film career began in 1958 with a bit part in En cas de malheur/Love Is My Profession (Claude Autant-Lara, 1958) starring Jean Gabin and Brigitte Bardot.

Bianchi was Miss Rome in 1960 and became the 1st runner-up in the 1960 Miss Universe contest, where she was also voted Miss Photogenic by the press.

More film parts followed in films like Les Démons de minuit/Midnight Follies (Marc Allégret, Charles Gérard, 1961) with Charles Boyer, the comedy Una domenica d'estate/Always on Sunday (Giulio Petroni, 1962) and the Peplum La Spada del Cid/ The Sword of El Cid (Miguel Iglesias, 1962).

Then she played the role of Tatiana Romanova in From Russia with Love (1963), the second James Bond film made by Eon Productions and the second to star Sean Connery  as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and directed by Terence Young.

Following the success of the first 007 film, Dr. No (Terence Young, 1962), United Artists had approved a sequel and doubled the budget available for the producers. From Russia with Love is based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. In the film, James Bond is sent to assist in the defection of Soviet consulate clerk Tatiana Romanova in Turkey, where SPECTRE plans to avenge Bond's killing of Dr. No. In addition to filming on location in Turkey, the action scenes were shot at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and in Scotland.

At the age of 21, Bianchi was and would be the youngest actress to play a leading Bond girl ever. Bianchi started taking English classes for the role, but the producers ultimately chose to dub her voice over by Barbara Jefford. From Russia with Love was a critical and commercial success, taking over $78 million in worldwide box office receipts, more than its predecessor Dr. No.

Daniela Bianchi
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: Publicity still for Missione speciale Lady Chaplin/Operation Lady Chaplin (Alberto De Martino, Sergio Grieco, 1966).

Daniela Bianchi
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: Publicity still for Missione speciale Lady Chaplin/Operation Lady Chaplin (Alberto De Martino, Sergio Grieco, 1966).

Daniela Bianchi, Jacques Bugerac
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: Publicity still for Missione speciale Lady Chaplin/Operation Lady Chaplin (Alberto De Martino, Sergio Grieco, 1966) with Jacques Bergerac.

Campy, Plodding, and Unintentionally Funny

After From Russia with Love, Daniela Bianchi made a number of French and Italian films. First she starred in the French thriller Le Tigre aime la chair fraîche/The Tiger Likes Fresh Blood (Claude Chabrol, 1964) opposite Roger Hanin as the secret agent LeTigre.

Her only role in an American production was in Rome Will Never Leave You (1964), three episodes filmed in Rome of the Dr. Kildare series with Richard Chamberlain.

Among her Italian films were the comedy Slalom (Luciano Salce, 1965) starring Vittorio Gassman, the comedy L'ombrellone/Weekend Wives (Dino Risi, 1965) and the Eurospy film Requiem per un agente segreto/Requiem for a Secret Agent (Sergio Sollima, 1966) starring Stewart Granger. The latter is the third and last Eurospy film of prolific director Sergio Sollima and the first he signed with his real name (in the two previous spy films he was credited as Simon Sterling).

One of Bianchi’s later films was Operation Kid Brother/OK Connery (Alberto de Martino, 1967), a James Bond spoof filmed in English (Bianchi was again dubbed) and starring Sean Connery 's younger brother, Neil Connery. The overall plot of the film is that England’s best secret agent is not available, so his younger brother is brought in to defeat the evil crime syndicate THANATOS.

O.K. Connery is notable in that several actors from the James Bond series appear as similar characters. Besides Bianchi, the film also features Adolfo Celi, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell and Anthony Dawson. Dan Pavlides at AllMovie: “Campy, plodding, and unintentionally funny in places, the feature remains a curiosity item only because of the novelty of Sean Connery's brother being the hero.”

Her final film was the crime drama Scacco Internazionale/The Last Chance (Giuseppe Rosati, 1968) in which she co-starred with Tab Hunter. She retired from acting. In 1985, she married a Genoan president of a cargo shipping company, with whom she has a son named Filippo.

In 2012 Daniela Bianchi returned for once to the screen in the documentary Noi non siamo come James Bond/We're nothing like James Bond (Mario Balsamo, 2012).

Trailer From Russia with Love (1963). Source: Agelesstrailers (YouTube).

Trailer Missione speciale Lady Chaplin/Operation Lady Chaplin (1966). Source: Igotmobilephone (YouTube).

Trailer Operation Kid Brother/OK Connery (1967). Source: Night of the Trailers (YouTube).

Sources: Dan Pavlides (AllMovie), M16, AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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