Actress Spotlight: Martine Beswick - Battling Beswick September 8, 2016 08:00
Martine Beswick was born September 26, 1941 in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Out of all the women to grace the celluloid of cult UK film company Hammer Films, few have been apart of so many well known projects as Martine Beswick.
She made her film debut in Terence Young's second James Bond adventure, From Russia With Love, as one of the hot blooded gypsy girls (Zora) cat fighting it out with another vixen in an early scene in the film. Young liked her so much she came back in fourth Bond installment, Thunderball, as Bond's sexy bikini clad field assistant.
Those two early appearances in Bond films helped lead her to the role of Nupund in Hammer's classic One Million Years B.C., where similar to From Russia With Love she played a feisty character who took on Raquel Welch. It was another short role but it lead to her marriage to the film's male lead John Richardson (which ended in 1972). She also made an impression on the producer Michael Carreras who came up with a film called Slave Girls which would feature Martine in the lead role of Queen Kari. With One Million Years B.C. still in production at the time the film reused many of the costumes and set pieces. Critically and commercially the film was a failure, but Slave Girls still has an appeal to some Hammer fans.
Following Slave Girls, Martine and husband moved to Los Angeles where she had a series of guest starring roles in popular television series, returning for a short time to London in 1971 she was offered the role of Sister Hyde in Hammer's Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde which saw Ralph Bates (Dr Jekyll) attempting to create an elixir that will cure all disease and extend his life. Made from female hormones it ends up turning him into a beautiful, yet evil, woman. It was a semi erotic twist to a horror classic and was the first time, due to new censorship regulations, that Hammer could include nudity which was used in a brief scene where Ralph Bates becomes Martine Beswick. Martine was not overly enthused about the scene but eventually agreed to it, in turn Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde became one of Hammer's best early 70's films.
Following the success of Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde Martine returned to the United States, although later in life she reflects that had she stayed in London she likely would have been able to jump start her film career again due to the success of her last outing with Hammer. But she did manage to pick up a few more roles, the most notable being a lead in Oliver Stone's first full length feature film Seizure playing "The Queen" alongside Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid.
For the next ten years (1975 - 1987) most of the roles she was able to get were once again guest appearances in TV series with a couple minor cult film roles in between, like 1980's Happy Hooker Goes To Hollywood. The 1990's saw the inevitable closure of her career, with a handful of roles in some incredibly low budget direct to video American horror films.
In 1998 she returned to England to be with her family and bid farewell to a career in acting that lasted almost four decades. While Martine Beswick never became as big a star as many of her fellow actresses at the time (even the cult film circuit) her determination and fiery personalty presented her with many opportunities, no matter how small, to be apart of some truly memorable films, not only in cult cinema but also films recognized by millions of people around the world.