Caroline Munro The Fantasy IconWritten by Matteo Sedazzari
“Being in the right place, at the right time,” is how Brian Jones, then of The Rolling Stones, described the discovery of the band. Certainly there is more depth to Brian Jones’s statement. Nevertheless what is true with his train of thought is the essence and spirit of the 60’s. An era where new ideas and new acts, seemed to be an everyday occurrence.
Perhaps this might be a rose tinted analysis of the 60’s, but it certainly seems that if you were young, beautiful, and creative, anything could happen in that decade. Well that certainly was the case for a young exquisite girl with a voluptuous body, who was just hanging out at Art school in Windsor Berkshire. A photographer friend of hers found her splendour so overwhelming, that he decided to send some photographs he had taken of her to a competition run by Vogue Magazine, to find the face of 1966. Which was judged by a man who knew a thing or two about models, David Bailey. Her amazing beauty won the contest hands down, and for the winner, Caroline Munro, her life was about to change forever.
Caroline Munro soon became a sought after model, which lead to more opportunities such as singing and acting, and in turn more modelling contracts followed. One covenant in particular would add to her iconic status.
In the early 70’s, Caroline Munro became the main face for the Navy Rum adverts. Racy and steamy photographs shot in exotic locations. Prior to this contract, Caroline Munro’s acting parts had been minor, and to be fair, few and far between. Until one day her beauty would play a massive hand in her fate once more.
Hammer Films C.E.O., James Carreras, would communicate to London, daily. The monotony of the journey was enlighten when he noticed Caroline Munro in a bikini, seductively gripping a bottle of Navy Rum on a large billboard, looming over the old smoke in an exquisite fashion. Mr Carreras knew Caroline Munro would be perfect for Hammer Films.
From that fateful day, Caroline Munro was to become known to millions of film fans across the world as an idol of fantasy cinema. This started from her appearance in Dracula AD 1972, as Laura, the bohemian girl, whose fate was sealed by a rendezvous with Dracula. Her status in that genre was heighten further in Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, as Carla, the free spirit gypsy girl, who knew no fear.
Caroline Munro will always be remembered as one of the most deadliest and defiantly the most beautiful of enemies James Bond has ever had to face, Naomi, in The Spy Who Loved Me. Caroline Munro also aided Sinbad, in the fight against mythical creatures in the Golden Voyage of Sinbad, which saw her do battle against the creations of special effects genius, Ray Harryhausen. She also had the good fortune to play Vincent Price’s dead wife, Victoria, in the two Dr Phibes films.
More achievements followed this impulsive and beautiful lady, as we discovered after chatting to Caroline Munro in the magical location of Baker Street W1 on a bright and breezy afternoon in London.
ZANI - First of all, I understand that you recently attended a screening and reunion of Captain Kronos. Were their mixed feelings or did you enjoy the event as whole?
Caroline Munro – That’s really good research I was nervous, but it was great fun. I have to thank the organiser Donald Fearney. I hadn’t seen the film or Horst Janson (Captain Kronos), since we made the Kronos film in 1974. So it was really strange to be meeting up with Horst again after all these years, but enjoyable. I still see the director, Brian Clemens, quite a lot.
ZANI – I know, that is Brian Clemens, is still a good friend of yours. What is it that you endear to him? Is that he gave you a break?
Caroline Munro – Yes and Kronos still remains so close to me. It was a lovely vehicle for me. I felt very blessed to be in Kronos. I wasn’t earmarked for it, I was earmarked for something else, but luckily I got to do Captain Kronos and loved it. And Brian was astounding as the director.
ZANI – Brian Clemens has a great CV as a director.
Caroline Munro – He does have a great CV, but apparently he wasn’t asked to do any more Kronos films.
ZANI – Yes I understand that Kronos was going to be a serial of films.
Caroline Munro – It should have been, but when it came out in 1974, for whatever reason, it was not well received.
ZANI – Do you think, by then, the whole Hammer Horror genre was coming to an end? It had been going since the 50’s. The 60’s saw the birth of Doctor Who - Star Trek, and films like Star War were just around the corner. I don’t know the answer, but maybe there was a natural change in people’s taste.
Caroline Munro – Possibly, there was a start of a new thing. Maybe the Hammer thing was coming to a natural end, but I wasn’t partially aware of it, as I had just signed a year’s contract with Hammer. Which did run for a year. I just think maybe Kronos didn’t have enough of the stuff that had made Hammer famous. You know, heaving bosoms and blood and guts.
ZANI – That’s certainly the case with Hammer’s first lady of Horror, Barbara Shelly.
Caroline Munro – Absolutely.
ZANI – As you have mentioned earlier, Captain Kronos is perhaps your favourite film. You relished playing part of Carla the gypsy, (who was arrested on a Sunday for dancing). What is it about Carla that you liked so much? Is it perhaps that she was a free spirited girl whom you could identify with? I mean that in a positive way….
Caroline Munro - I know what you mean. I suppose, in a way yes. I was a country girl in the world growing up, so part of me kind of related to her. It was great to go into the studio every morning and not have to bother to put on the makeup and the glad rags.
The makeup man would just dirty my face and feet up, and I had just the one costume. I also liked the element of Carla being in love with Kronos.
ZANI – So part of Captain Kronos was a love story?
Caroline Munro – Yea, Carla was innocent in a way. She was used to being on her own, and she has a strong sense of independence - character traits that I adored in her.
ZANI - Kronos means time travel, and I see that you are no stranger to time travel. As you did an audio of Dr Who, with the 5th Doctor, Peter Davidson, as ‘Omega’ which you regard as one of your finest pieces of work. Why is that?
Caroline Munro – I got the script literally the night before the recording. I phoned Jayne up (my agent and friend) and said “You’ve got to call them up and tell them I can’t do it. I can’t even read the script". Jayne said, “I can’t do that. You are going to do it, and you are going to be in the studio tomorrow at 9 am”.
So I read through the script, with amazing words. Being dyslexia, you can’t break the words down. When people say phonics, it could be anything really. Even though I have an ear for music, phonics of breaking down a word didn’t make sense to me. So that was extremely hard.
Anyway, I thought I would sleep on the script, and read it through as best as I could. I thought, it’s an experience and if I am terrible, they will just kick me off the set. I’ll just go for it, as best as I can.
So I went along. Peter Davidson and the rest of the crew were there. They were all so professional and had done it in one take. You only got more or less one take, as we had only two days to record the audio. So we steamrollered through it. I am really pleased with the project, and my contribution.
ZANI – Got anymore Dr Who audio’s in the pipeline.
Caroline Munro – Not really, but I would love to be in the new one.
ZANI - There was a big hype in the late 80’s that there was going to be a big budget Dr Who film. Names like John Cleese were mention as the Doctor and your name was associated as a villain or his assistant. Does it irritate you that many years later, Russell T Davies is making the series?
Caroline Munro – No as it happens. It obliviously wasn’t my time to do it. It was sad, but you’ve got to move on because it’s not the most important thing in life at the end of the day.
ZANI – That’s a great attitude to have.
Caroline Munro – It would have been great, but it happens.
ZANI – OK, thinking forward. Have you approached Russell T Davies about being in the new Dr Who?
Caroline Munro – No. There are a few people I would like to work with now, in the genre that appeals to me, in which I could do something for and I would love to work with.
ZANI – I take it Russell T Davies is one.
Caroline Munro – Yes and the others are Quentin Tarantino, a big one I know. Tim Burton and Rob Zombie. Rob Zombie produces interesting work for me, and he uses old girls and boys.
ZANI – I think your fans would love to see you appear in any work by those fellas.
Caroline Munro – Thank you.
ZANI - Revivals and remakes are big business these days. Big Brother developer John de Mol has just bought the name and the rights of your former employer, Hammer Films.
From what I’ve read none of the live former stars of Hammer are involved in this new project. Do you think it really is a revival or just a franchise of Hammer?
Caroline Munro – Everybody has talked about the Hammer revival for so long. But I can’t see them better what was already done, because it was so unique. In a way I would so love see it again, but that time has passed, and we’ve moved on. Sadly, or depending on how you feel, we’ve got CGI and all this magic stuff they can do these days. We haven’t got the Ray Harryhausen’s anymore. But people have learnt from the Harryhausen’s.
ZANI – Their 1st film, Beyond The Rave, features the likes of Tamer Hassan, so it should be interesting to see.
Caroline Munro – I meet Tamer briefly with Danny Dyer. Both nice guys. I liked him, we were doing a show together in Birmingham. He and Danny Dyer were kind of a double act, both bright characters.
ZANI –There is an independent film company that is making some amazing horror films. That to me is a mixture of early Roger Corman, Universal Horror and Hammer Horror, Redfield Arts, who have 3 great films in pre production, The Madness Of Frankenstein, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Crimes Of Sherlock Holmes.
I know that one of the founders is a friend of yours, Mark Redfield. Please tell about us this exciting film company, and I understand you may be doing some acting with them.
Caroline Munro – Well he phones Jayne, and we have a chat. I should be working with him next year. I think Mark is good, very good. But as you know and I know, getting together the budget is hard. Even though if we all do the work for love, you’ve still got to have some sort of budget. I think Mark is lovely as an actor, he’s super bright with wonderful creative ideas. I do hope it works for him.
ZANI - Do you think Redfield Arts could be closer to the original concept of Hammer, than the new Hammer films?
Caroline Munro – Yes, Mark pays great homage to Hammer, in a decent way. If he was given a big budget, I am positive he could make a brilliant film. He would hand pick his actors, and mix a little bit of the old with the new. Which you’ve got to have in any film.
ZANI –Is it true that you, and other horror legend Ingrid Pitt, her daughter, and Veronica Carlson are making a film together?
Caroline Munro – Ingrid is my friend. She said what do you think about this idea. I said it sounds great. She asked if I would come along and back it, and I said of course I would. Its Ingrid’s baby, if she gets off the ground, I will be more than happy to help her in doing whatever I can. Whether it’s a big or small capacity.
ZANI - How come yours and Ingrid Pitt paths never crossed in a movie? Imagine it, you and Ingrid, with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, directed by Roy Ward Barker, plus a guest star appearance from Vincent Price. That now that would have been a super league horror film.
Caroline Munro – That would have been an amazing film. I would have loved that.
ZANI – So Hammer decided to never put you and Ingrid in the same film?
Caroline Munro – I have no idea why - they never discussed it, which is a shame because we have worked well together.
ZANI – The Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe of horror.
Caroline Munro – That’s a nice comparison.
ZANI - I know you have been asked, on numerous occasions, about working with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Vincent Price. I don’t want to cover old ground, but as a fan of these actors, I am curiosity to know about them.
Caroline Munro – I’ve asked quite a lot about the ‘Godfathers’ of horror.
ZANI – I would call them the 2nd generation ‘Godfathers’ of horror, as I see Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, and Lon Chaney Jr as the first ‘Godfathers’ of horror
Caroline Munro – True, even I was too young to remember those guys first time around, but how lucky was I to work with three iconic men.
All so very different men. You could see why they were huge stars, because they all had their own charisma about them. They were very handsome and very unique in what they did.
I am sure a lot of people don’t realise how amusing Peter Cushing was. He started off in comedy.
ZANI – Yeah, he worked with Laurel and Hardy in A Chump At Oxford. I’m a massive Peter Cushing fan
Caroline Munro – You are really aren’t you. Lots people of think Peter just did horror, but he was a serious actor. Yes he was a serious actor, but very funny. I got the chance to work with him twice. Dracula 1972 AD and 2nd time At The Earth’s Core with Doug McClure. Where I got to have a lot of dialogue scenes with Peter. I got to know Peter well off the set. He was the sweetest and loveliest man you could hope to meet.
Christopher Lee is a big man, very handsome. I think when I did Dracula 1972 AD with him that was a big turning point in me, in realising that I wanted to be an actor. A lot of that was down to working with Christopher. I believed that I was Laura. I had never experienced anything like that in my life before. I was inspired by sprit of the young people there, like Christopher Neame, Stephanie Beacham, and Marsha Hunt.
ZANI - A great deal of Dracula 1972 AD centres on Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham) and her group. All of the actors in that group were young and beautiful, with funky clothes, and a hedonistic outlook. Was 70’s London like that for the ‘beautiful’ people?
Caroline Munro – I suspect it was, but not particularly for me, because I think I was still living at home during the filming of AD. I should say “Oh yeah, I did it all”, but I didn’t really swing in the 60’s and 70’s. Sorry to disappoint you, but I am sure Marsha Hunt did.
ZANI – Well Marsha hung with the Godfathers of swing, The Rolling Stones.
Caroline Munro – As you know she gave birth to Mick Jagger’s 1st child, Karis, and The Stones wrote Brown Sugar about her. Marsha was so down to earth and sweet. I used to pick her up in my mini to drive us to the set. She had just given birth to Karis, so she was over the moon about that.
I had seen Marsha in Hair, a few years before AD, and there she was sitting in my little mini. For me, that was cool. Stephanie was an upcoming actress, full of energy and enthusiasm, great to be around. I was the new kid on the block, and the cast welcomed me with open arms
ZANI – As you said, Dracula 1972 AD gave you the acting bug and you’ve gone on the record as never having any formula training as an actor. Unlike your co-stars, like Stephanie Beacham and Michael Kitchen of AD, who went to the likes of RADA
Would you say then, that your acting skills are slightly in the school of method acting as opposed to traditional acting? You might have been influenced by the likes of James Dean and Marlon Brando?
Caroline Munro – Interesting point. I watched Brando and the few films that James Dean had done as a kid. It fascinated me, but never ever in my wildest thoughts did I think I would do acting later on in life. My dad was a lawyer, and as a child we never discussed acting as a career.
With acting, I suppose I am a bit sponge like, with being dyslexic. I had to memorise stuff. I had to use my memory for stuff, whether that is a visual thing or spiritual, rather than read the part, because to read it would take me too long.
People ask if I prepare for a part - it depends. If I am going to play a psychopathic murderer, not really. I have to feel what’s going on with the moment, and how can I respond to what’s happening.
Like with my role as Laura and Christopher Lee as Dracula biting me. I had never been bitten by a vampire before, so I don’t know how one would react. I can only go with what’s he’s doing, and then how I am feeling at that moment. That’s how I play my parts.
ZANI – An instinctive actor perhaps. It was a phrase you coined in a BBC radio interview.
Caroline Munro – I suppose so, but I am not sure if there is such a phrase.
ZANI - I understand that one part you wanted was Esmeralda, the leading lady in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, which went to Lesley Anne Down. What is about Esmeralda that enchanted you?
Caroline Munro – She’s just an amazing and interesting character. I was very confident when I went for the part, but Lesley Anne Down did a great job.
ZANI - Are their any other great fictional characters you would like to play or have played, regardless of whether they have been made into a film or not?
Caroline Munro – Boudicca, what a great role. I thought Sian Phillips and Alex Kingston were both great as Boudicca. A powerful and sexy role, which I could do well with my acting skills.
People have always mentioned the great female roles of Shakespeare, Ophelia, Juliet, and Lady Macbeth, but I don’t know too much about Shakespeare. I covered it at school but because I am a self taught actress, or whatever term you wish to use. I didn’t go to the drama school, I didn’t study the classics and all the stuff you are meant to do. So I came into it leftfield really, as I learnt as I went along. I had no techniques to fall back on. All I had to fall back on was me.
ZANI - Changing the subject, music is important to you. You cut your teeth with the recording of Tar & Cement in 1966, for EMI, featuring Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, 2/3 rds of Cream and future Yes member Steve Howe.
How did the recording go and how did you manage to do some recording for EMI?
Caroline Munro –Mark Worth, the producer, had more or less done the track before I got there. He just needed to add a few over dubs. The only reason I got to do the track wasn’t because I was great, but because my dad’s friend was head of Decca, Beecher Stevens.
I used to sing in the church choir, and Beecher Stevens asked me if I liked singing and I replied yes. But it was a big step from singing in the choir with a vicar to recording with Clapton and Ginger Baker.
ZANI – How were Clapton and Baker during this session?
Caroline Munro – They came in, did it and went. But to do the recording at Abbey Road, was a great feeling.
ZANI – Nice one, Abbey Road, landmarked forever by The Beatles
Caroline Munro – The Beatles were recording next to me. But I missed them. After recording my vocals, I asked my dad, who was there, what he thought. He said they were fine. Then he told me that he was talking to these four northern lads in the studio next door, who he said, were really nice and making great music.
Then it clicked. My dad had been hanging out with The Beatles, and he didn’t know who they were. My dad was lovely. He was a lawyer, but he wasn’t really into what was called ‘Pop Music’ in those days.
When I realised who he had been with, I asked straight away if he had got their autographs. But alias he didn’t. I was, and still am, a big Beatles fan and I had seen them a few times live.
ZANI – That’s a gutter. As we know Beecher Stevens and Decca Records, turned down The Beatles. Their then head of AR, Dick Rowe allegedly said, “Guitar groups are on the way out.”
Caroline Munro – But Decca got The Rolling Stones. When I was still at school in 1964, Beecher Stevens was round at my house and he shown me photos of these 5 strange looking lads. He asked what I thought. I said they are a bit ugly. Of course it turned to be The Stones.
Then I saw them in a club in Richmond, The Crawdaddy Club, in which they played songs like ‘Oh Carol’ and ‘King Bee’. I went back Beecher Stevens, and said I really like them. He said, “That’s good because we’ve just signed them” and I replied “That’s nice but I still prefer The Beatles.”
ZANI – Ha, did that comment cause any feud between your dad and him.
Caroline Munro – Oh no, but I became a big Stones fan soon after.
ZANI – What about now, Stones or Beatles?
Caroline Munro – I like them both.
ZANI –As it has been stated, you hit the big time in 1966. Were you announced as the face of that year on a youth program on the Whole Scene Going on the BBC?
This show also featured Lulu and the granddad’s of the Mod, The Who. If so, that is one amazing way to make an entrance. Did you feel like Caroline Munro had arrived?
Caroline Munro – Oh that was an awful program. But I didn’t really notice it, I know that sounds silly. I suppose I might have been a little naïve. But it wasn’t the real me, doing the show. But I was watching The Who. That was fabulous - watching Lulu, which was great. But me, nay.
I chatted to The Who, Lulu, Alan Price, and Georgie Fame, who were on the same show, as we hung out in the Green Room afterwards.
ZANI – Now that’s one hell of a Green Room to be in, even more so today. Who was your favourite member of The Who?
Caroline Munro – Keith Moon.
ZANI – Why Moon?
Caroline Munro – It was the madness, and I liked his look. He had an interesting look. He was the pretty boy. They say Roger Daltry, but Moon for me. Roger had nice hair and strong arms.
ZANI – In the 60’s, what scene you were into?
Caroline Munro – I loved the Mod scene, I remember going with my friend Anne Hamilton on a top of the bus, to Brighton, to watch the Mods and the Rockers fight. We were very young, we had to stay on the bus because all the police were there. We weren’t meant to be there, as we were only 13, or 14. I remember watching the Mods fight, and thinking that’s very cool.
I loved Cathy McGowan, and her hair. I remember laying my head on the ironing board, so my mum could iron out my hair really straight, with brown paper. That’s what all the girls did back in the day.
ZANI – What about clothes?
Caroline Munro – With my first pay packet from modelling, I went down to Carnaby Street, bought some nice shoes, and, god forbid my daughter will kill me for saying this, I bought a real fur coat, fox fur. My daughter is a strict vegetarian.
ZANI – As long as you haven’t got it anymore. I know you love The Stones and The Beatles, what other bands did you like?
Caroline Munro – The Small Faces, and Motown, loved Motown. Then in the 70’s, I got into heavy rock.
ZANI - In the mid 70’s, you formed a musical partnership with your then husband Judd Hamilton, Hamilton & Miss Munro, who you meet in 1969 whilst filming the American film, A Talent of Loving.
What contemporary musicians of that time did you inspire to be?
Caroline Munro – Even though I liked the heavy rock sound, I suppose we were influenced by the soft American rock scene like Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles. With a little bit of Dylan, who was more folk music.
ZANI - Hamilton and Ms Munro, I understand, were signed to RCA, (home of Elvis), and everything seem to be rosy there. Until one day there was a big personnel change in RCA UK. Which lead to a track called Love Songs not being released, is that right?
Caroline Munro – I don’t know, that sounds awful doesn’t it. I can’t believe you know all this. This is part of my history that I’ve actually almost forgotten.
ZANI – Fair enough. Were Hamilton and Ms Munro based in the US because the name has a sort of Los Angles chic ring to it?
Caroline Munro – I know what you mean about the name, but we were based in London.
ZANI – Did being in Hamilton and Ms Munro help to fuel your passion for music?
Caroline Munro - I’ve always liked music, and always had music on around the house. But with Hamilton and Ms Munro, Judd was the singer, I was not the singer. By now acting was my passion, and this was more of a sideline. But to tell you the truth, I didn’t feel that confident in singing.
ZANI – Especially when you had the likes of Karen Carpenter and Stevie Nicks around in 1977, strong and dynamic singers with beautiful and unique voices.
Caroline Munro – Exactly, you’ve got to know your stuff. There was no way I could have competed with those girls.
ZANI – Yea, singers that don’t rely on compressed vocals.
Caroline Munro – But it’s great to see these days, girls like Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Duffy doing it. My girls have got them on all the time.
Duffy reminds me so much of the 60’s. Amy Winehouse has got a great soul voice, and she wears her heart on her shelve.
Going back to Hamilton and Ms Munro, it’s what Judd wanted. So he kind of bought me along, because he thought I looked OK. But Judd was the singer, and I was a bit of the cherry.
ZANI – So Hamilton and Ms Munro, was something you did in-between filming. As it was Judd Hamilton’s forte more than yours.
Caroline Munro – Yes, Judd came from a very musical background. He was in Hamilton, Frank, & Reynolds in the early 70’s, who had a successful career. I suppose Judd thought Hamilton and Ms Munro would be something different, and I really enjoyed it.
But again I had no necessary experience in it. It was something new to me. As I said, I had sung in the choir and done Tar and Cement, but maybe I was playing at it, more than doing it seriously.
ZANI – Then in the 80’s you got to work and record with Gary Numan.
Caroline Munro – It was a pleasure working with him. I still respect Gary, he’s still doing his own thing and touring, and I loved the revamped version of Cars. A very private person, and quite shy. A lot of talented singer songwriters are very much like that, like Adam.
ZANI – Of course your famous appearance in The Goody Two Shoes video with Adam Ant. How did that come about?
Caroline Munro – Adam approached my agent ICM. He wanted me to appear on the video, which was nice.
ZANI - There is one track that you did on Gary Numan’s record label - Warrior Of Love. With a little bit of a remix, it could have easily been a hit in the acid house scene of 1988. Did you ever think about going down that avenue with that track?
Because there were plenty of DJ’s at the time who were bringing obscure records to the prominence of the dance floors.
Caroline Munro – I wasn’t really into that scene at the time. But you are right about Warrior Of Love, it could have worked on the dance floor.
ZANI - More recently you’ve been working on a musical venture with Gary Wilson. Are there any more projects in the pipeline with him?
Caroline Munro – That’s weird because I saw Gary at the Kronos reunion as he bought out the CD for the film’s soundtrack. As for working with him again, I don’t know. He wants to, so who knows, maybe sometime soon.
ZANI - A question of passion, what song make you go yes ?
Caroline Munro – Elvis, I'm a big Elvis fan. However, in saying that, I’m a Presley girl. I love Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn, one of my all time favourites, and liked the Cher version. Of course Elvis’s Burning Love, and loads of Stones. There are loads that really get me going, too many to answer off the cuff.
ZANI - As you’ve had a interesting and varied career, I can’t help but jump around.
After the success of Dracula AC 1972, and Captain Kronos, you appeared in two more iconic films, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and The Spy Who Loved Me. Both exotic parts, which will be remembered forever.
Did you, during or after the making of these films, think how the hell did a girl from Windsor end up fighting a Cyclops or trying to kill James Bond?
Caroline Munro – I think I just took it in my stride, I know I should say yes I did this. But I didn’t really ever think about it, I just knew I loved doing the work. It was just like another me - there was me and then there was someone else.
ZANI – In Tony Hancock’s famous face to face interview with John Freeman, Hancock said what he liked about success was “To have the luxury of independence… to choose what work I do.” Is that what the Caroline Munro was like in the 70’s - not bothered about the fame and fortune, just the chance to do a cool job?
Caroline Munro – I was never bothered about the fame and fortune. I look back now and think haven’t I been so lucky to meet the people I have, been to the places I’ve been and done the things I done. But at the time, I wasn’t giving the attitude of being someone special, I was just enjoying the experience.
ZANI – I think that is a commendable attitude to have. Sadly with today’s obsession with Celebrity Culture, a lot of people see fame and fortunate as the ultimate prize.
Caroline Munro – I don’t want to demean my success, but I can’t imagine it to be any other way. It’s great to have been in the films I have been in. But if I spoke to a young actor I wouldn’t know what to say. So much is expected these days, they expect instant fame.
But what is it that they want? Is it the fame, the admiration, or be in something that is great to be in, pay your bills and meet interesting people. I don’t know.
ZANI - I don’t think they know themselves. Anyway back to a positive question.
Do you think it was foolish to have killed Naomi in The Spy Who Loved me. Perhaps the filmmakers could have had Naomi in Moonraker, and created an onscreen chemistry between Bond and her. That would have been similar to Batman and Catwoman?
Caroline Munro – That I like, as an extension of her character. I think Naomi could have gone on a bit more. There were a few other scenes that were written in that would have expanded Naomi. But there were certain scenes that Curd Jurgens didn’t like, which were going to be in the film.
ZANI – Such as?
Caroline Munro - That was Naomi and Karl Stromberg (Carl Jurgens) swimming with Dolphins. Carl felt his character would not have done that. This is a pity, as it would have added more depth to Naomi. She was out on a limb, but my Daddy cried when she died.
ZANI – Another film, which is a big favourite with your fans, is Starcrash.
It has been called an Italian version of Star Wars. Please tell me more about this project.
Caroline Munro – Ha, supposedly Star Wars. Starcrash was fun, and hard work. I was there for 6 months.
ZANI – In the same outfit
Caroline Munro – Ha, if you can call it that, there wasn’t much there.
ZANI - After Starcrash, you moved into the European world of cinema and independent film making in the US.
In these films, you seem to have more involvement in the production. Is this something you wanted to achieve, as you might have felt with some of the other films you had appeared in, that your hands were tied?
Caroline Munro - I had a bit more say in Europe and yes it’s something I would like to have been more involved and still would.
ZANI - A film that interests me is Maniac. I have to be honest, I have never seen it. I understand it is a brutal slasher film, and was banned in the UK for many years.
Please tell me a little about the film, and is it true that you were nicked at Heathrow airport whilst trying to bring a copy of the film into the UK?
Caroline Munro – Maniac is a well made film. Supposedly that happened with regard to Heathrow airport, but it wasn’t me.
ZANI – Oh it wasn’t, that’s the Internet for you.
Caroline Munro - Supposedly it was William Lustig, the director, on the way to the Cannes Film Festival. I would own up to it if it was me.
ZANI - You stayed with European horror, for a few years. A big market in the 80’s for horror. What is about their style of horror that you like?
Caroline Munro – I was very fascinated by Italian, Spanish and French films. A lot of their films have an arty, stylish, and unorthodox style, which I adore and wanted to be a part of.
ZANI - In the 80’s, you turned down the chance to go to American and star in the Bold And The Beautiful. Instead you choose to appear in the UK game show 3 2 1 with Ted Rogers.
Was that due to the fact, you wanted a more relaxing life?
Caroline Munro – In a way, it was a big mistake to do 3 2 1.
ZANI – Do you really think that? You had been globe-trotting for three decades, and maybe you just wanted to come home, put the kettle on and just relax.
Caroline Munro – Maybe, I had fallen in love with George. I was in Leeds for 3 days a week. The money was very good. Nice working with Ted, comparatively easy, very lazy. People were saying to me, why aren’t you practising your craft, but I had the choice, my choice.
ZANI – I don’t think, but I could be wrong, that you wanted the sort of Hollywood fame in the 80’s that Joan Collins, Kate O’Mara, and your Dracula AD co-star Stephanie Beacham found.
Caroline Munro – I never ever wanted it, but I would have liked it. Maybe my problem was and always will be that I was never that ambitious.
ZANI – We can’t mention names, but didn’t you see some people who chased the Hollywood dream get really messed up.
Caroline Munro –There has been one or two. With my heart on my hand, again the fame was never important to me. The mid 80’s were a comfortable time for me, I was happy. It was the easy times; it was a few years after that the struggle came.
ZANI - Like in 1989, you made The Black Cat, yet the experience was tainted due to the fact that you weren’t paid or there was a delay in payment.
Do you think that is a problem that struggling actors and independent filmmakers face, with regard to getting the money?
Caroline Munro – That got the whole production in a lot of trouble. Not having the money is always going to start a conflict. I will do anything for charity, but at the end of the day, you need a little bit of money.
ZANI - You’ve turned down some film roles, like The World is Full Of Married Men, because they had nude scenes in them and you refused to do them.
Going back to Kronos, which appeared to have nude scenes with you. However I understand this was down to the fact that you used a body double, Glenda Allen, and the makeup department used industry tricks to create this impression. Weren’t films like Married Men willing to compromiseor didn’t you push for it?
Caroline Munro – Wow that was a long time ago. I don’t think we entered into negotiations about being nude, once I said no.
ZANI - Many wish you and Hammer had compromised to make Vampirella. Because that has to go down as one of the greatest horror films never mad. As you know, there was a photo shoot with you cast as Vampirella donning those boots from Dracula 1972 AD. Those were great boots.
Caroline Munro – I don’t know if I was seriously offered that role, but I think they were quite keen. But Barbara Leigh was offered the role that never was.
But you might be right about the boots, perhaps they just wanted to see me in those boots again. I got to wear those boots quite a lot
ZANI – I don’t suppose you’ve got them anymore?
Caroline Munro – Will you shut up about the boots, they’ve gone, end of story. But my eldest daughter would love them, she’s so arty and into the retro thing.
ZANI - Let’s have a chat about the Navy Rum ads. You stated in a Guardian interview in 2002, that Navy Rum wanted someone to “Appeal to sailors.” Was that a tongue in cheek reply?
Caroline Munro – I didn’t say that, I never said that. The Navy Rum ads were fun to do
ZANI – Navy Rum certainly has made you an iconic part of the 70’s UK, and you got to travel the world.
Caroline Munro – Well the first few years of the Navy Rum ads were actually shot in Dorset. We eventually did a photo session in Los Angles and Palm Springs. So we did progress, as the ads become more successful.
There was a photo shoot in Jamaica, which I couldn’t make because I was filming in France at the time. So they shoot with the other girls for the calendar there and when they came back, they did mine in Dorset.
ZANI – From Dorset to LA and back again.
Caroline Munro – Exactly.
ZANI - You light up the screen, no question, but your ads for Noxema skin cream were banned in the South and Middle US. Deep down, I bet that was something you were proud of.
Caroline Munro – Yes I quite liked that. I’ve been banned a few times. Mary Whitehouse got my Mannequin Cigars ad banned
ZANI – Mary Whitehouse, class. What I’ve seen of the Noxema ads, they seemed fine.
Caroline Munro – Supposedly in the Southern States, it was my eyes. Whatever I said with my eyes was all wrong. I said in the ads, “Take it off, take it all off” to a man who was taking off his shaving foam with a razor. And that was it.
ZANI – Well you’re certainly corrupting children with those ads. OK, you’ve taken a break to bring up your daughters and since 2003 you’re back making movies again. What’s your biggest ambition for this year?
Caroline Munro – There’s always loads of projects which are always being talked about. There was a film last year that we were going to do in Wales, but it might still happened. To be honest, I don’t really know. There is one in the US which is awaiting budget. There are 3 projects I am waiting on. If they happen, great, if not, that’s the name of the game. We will have to wait and see.
ZANI - With horror and fantasy being such a big part of your life. What hobbies do you have to get away from it all?
Caroline Munro – We’ve got a nice little place on the beach near Hastings. Every penny I have I am putting into it. We’ve had the place for years it was my Mum’s. It’s beautiful, but it’s very basic and I am trying to get that organised.
So in the summer, I take my girls and the dog there. Love walking in the Lake District, and being outside generally. I enjoy going to markets and charity shops with my girls.
ZANI - Final question, but in two parts. What’s your proudest moment in your personal life, and what’s your proudest moment in your professional life?
Caroline Munro – Personal life, my babies of course.
My professional life, doing the Dr Who audio was one of the hardest things to do and also one of the most rewarding. It was nice getting an award in Spain for being the best Horror actress in The Howl Of The Devil. Working with Ray Harryhausen, amazing and of course recording in Abbey Road studios.
ZANI –You say it all with a big endearing smile.
Caroline Munro – I’ve been a lucky girl.
Caroline Munro delivers her final statement with sincerity and gratitude. She is positively reflective about her past, and equally optimism about the future.
Caroline Munro is an impulsive artist, always willing to learn and take on new challenges. Her track record proves this. In addition, like many people who suffer from dyslexia, she feels an urge to be creative as opposed to being academic. This is a strong tract of this learning disability. Whether it is a desire to prove the system wrong or just for personnel gravity that depends on the individual. However in Caroline’s case, I believe it to be the latter. As it is near on impossible to sense any bitterness or maliciousness within her.
From the blessed opportunities she’s been given, Caroline Munro has used the chances to make choices of her own, that have graced the public ever since. Some of the choices may have not been as successful as others. But this is an indication of the bravery and inquisitive nature of Caroline Munro. As she will seize the moment, regardless of the outcome. As Caroline Munro is defiantly the right girl for the right time.
© Matteo Sedazzari / ZANI