Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Actress Linda Christian Passes On

Actress Linda Christian, who appeared in such films as Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948) and memorably in the TV series Climax adaptation of Casino Royale, passed on 22 July at the age of 87. She was also well known as Tyrone Power''s second wife.

Linda Christian was born Blanca Rosa Henrietta Stella Welter Vorhauer, the daughter of a Dutch oil executive and his Mexican wife, in Tampico, Mexico on 13 November 1923. Her parents travelled a good deal abroad, so that she learned several languages while still young. She had wanted to become a physician, but as a teenager met Errol Flynn, who persuaded her to take up acting. 

Miss Christian made her film début as "Linda Welter" in El peñón de las Ánimas (1943).  Her first American film would also be Danny Kaye's film début, Up in Arms (1943).  She appeared in Club Havana (1945) before being signed to MGM. For the next several years Miss Christian would be cast in roles for which her looks were of great benefit. She appeared in such films as Holiday in Mexico (1946), Green Dolphin Street (1947), Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948), Show Boat (1951), Battle Zone (1952), The Happy Time (1952), and Slaves of Babylon (1953). It was in 1949 that she married Tyrone Power. The marriage lasted six years.

 It was in 1954 that Linda Christian made her television début, and it would be an impressive one. She appeared in an adaptation of Casino Royale, the first Bond novel, on the TV series Climax. Miss Christian was in very good company, playing opposite Barry Nelson as James Bond and Peter Lorre as the villain Le Chiffre. Miss Christian played Valerie Mathis, who was more or less the Vesper Lynd of the novel simply by another name. Miss Christian then had the most singular honour of being the world's very first Bond Girl.

Miss Christian's career would slow somewhat following her divorce from Tyrone Power. She appeared in  such films as Athena (1954), Thunderstorm (1956), Meet Peter Voss (1959), The Devil's Hand (1962), Passport for a Corpse (1962),  The V.I.P.s (1963), 10:32 in the Morning (1966), How to Seduce a Playboy (1966), The World's Gold (1967), and Delitti (1987).  On television she appeared on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Dick Powell Theatre.

Even today Linda Christian is best known for two things. The first was her incredible appearance. With a beautiful face and a curvaceous body, she was nicknamed "The Anatomic Bomb." The second, of course, was her marriage to Tyrone Power. In some ways Miss Christian could be described, much as the Gabor Sisters, as being "famous for being famous." That having been said, in the proper role Miss Christian could be a good actress. She actually did quite well as Valerie Mathis in the Climax adaptation of Casino Royale. She was also convincing as the snobbish Beth Hanson in Athena and in her role on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "An Out  for Oscar." While I doubt Miss Christian could have ever been a great actress, she was certainly good at her craft. As to her beauty, there can be no doubt about that.

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