Saturday, 6 May 2017

Daliah Lavi R.I.P.

Daliah Lavi, the Israeli actress who appeared in such films as Lord Jim (1965), Ten Little Indians (1965), The Silencers (1966), and Casino Royale (1967), died on May 3 2017 at the age of 74.

Daliah Lavi was born Daliah Levinbuck on October 12 1942 in Haifa, British Palestine. She was only ten years old when she met actor Kirk Douglas, and told him that she wanted to become a dancer. Mr. Douglas encouraged her parents to send her to Stockholm, Sweden to learn dance when she was 12 years old. Her father died when she was 16, at which point she returned to Israel to become a swimsuit model.

Miss Lavi made her film debut when she was only about 13, appearing in the Swedish film Hemsöborna (1955).  In the late Fifties she appeared in the films Brennender Sand (1960) and Candide ou l'optimisme au XXe siècle (1960).  She spent the early Sixties appearing in various European films, including Un soir sur la plage (1961), La fête espagnole (1961), Im Stahlnetz des Dr. Mabuse (1961),  Das schwarz-weiß-rote Himmelbett (1962),  La frusta e il corpo (1963), Das große Liebesspiel (1963), Old Shatterhand (1964), and Cyrano et d'Artagnan (1964). 

She made her debut in an American film in Two Weeks in Another Town in 1962. She played the Girl in Lord Jim (1965). Based on Joseph Conrad's novel and directed by Richard Brooks, unfortunately the film received bad reviews and did poorly at the box office. Lord Jim did nothing to hurt Daliah Lavi's career in English language films. In the late Sixties she appeared in such films as Ten Little Indians (1965), The Silencers (1966), Casino Royale (1967), Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (1967), Nobody Runs Forever (1968), and Some Girls Do (1969).

Miss Lavi's last American film was Catlow (1971). She began a successful singing career in Germany, and appeared frequently on European television in the Seventies and Eighties in that capacity.

In the English speaking world Daliah Lavi is probably best known for her roles as an often scantily clad object of lust in various American and British spy spoofs. Given her looks there can be no doubt that she was well suited to such roles. That having been said, she was fluent in multiple languages, so that she made films in Israel, Italy, France, and Germany, and often these films were a far cry from the light-hearted spy spoofs she made in English. Outside of the Anglopshere she made several dramas and films in other genres, where she more than held her own. Ultimately she was much more than a pretty face.

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