Jacqueline Bisset, actress, b. Jacqueline Fraser, Weybridge, England, September 13, 1944.
Jacqueline Bisset began her career as a model in the early 1960s. Her beauty, and rather sultry way of using those physical charms, led to her being cast in movies. She was used in bit parts, and was credited as an extra in 1965's The Knack... and How to Get It, but it wouldn't be until 1967's bizarre James Bond parody Casino Royale that she would be cast in a role that made her noticeable... the role of Miss Goodthighs.
Well, I do appreciate good thighs.
Bisset would appear in two other films in 1967, including Two for the Road with Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney before gaining big time status with a major role in Bullitt as Steve McQueen's girlfriend Cathy. She would then proceed to make a bunch of films, some with French sounding titles, before the disaster loving audiences embraced her in Airport, the film that started it all. And, well, George Kennedy was in it so that is worth twenty points as well. Easily.
Jacqueline Bisset was on her way to becoming a major seventies sex symbol. She was a breed apart from many of the cardboard, sugar sweet lollypops of her time. Jackie Bisset was a woman with spirit who smelled like danger. She would maintain a very heavy movie schedule, appearing in at least one film every year from 1965 until pretty much the present day.
Other notable roles in the early seventies included The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean with Paul Newman, The Thief Who Came to Dinner with Ryan O'Neal, and the winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film of 1973, Day for Night ("La Nuit Américaine").
In 1974, Jacqueline Bisset would again expand her range of film types with the film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Several films later she would be cast in the role for which she gained the most notoriety. Appearing with Robert Shaw and Nick Nolte in 1977's The Deep there would be much talk that making a second Peter Benchley novel (the first of course being Jaws) into a movie was done as an excuse to have Bisset walk around in a wet t-shirt. Attempting to detract from the hormonally charged publicity, Bisset worked diligently to insure that none of the photos of her in said wet t-shirt would be circulated. Later that year she would be named by Newsweek magazine as "the most beautiful film actress of all time."
The following year, Jackie B would be cast as the female lead in The Greek Tycoon, a thinly veiled retelling of the Jackie O/Aristotle Onassis saga, where Jackie was Liz and not really Jackie. Or something like that.
Still simmering and sexually overpowering, Bisset would take another new turn in 1983's Class where she played Rob Lowe's mother who has an affair with her son's nerdy friend Andrew McCarthy. It was, at the time, the filmatic version of every young geek's fantasy, having a friend with a hot mom who wants to "show you the ropes."
In 1985 she would play the lead role in a television adaptation of Anna Karenina, part of a string of made for television projects for Bisset in the mid-1980s. In 1987 she would return to a leading role on the big screen in High Season as a photographer on vacation in the Greek islands with her husband, a film that also featured Kenneth Branaugh as a goofy English tourist in one of those "before they were really big" moments.
1990 would have Jacqueline Bisset in a more or less supporting role in Wild Orchid, where Mickey Rourke and Carre Otis have a lot of sex while Jacqueline Bisset is called away on business. She would follow that up with The Maid where Martin Sheen becomes so obsessed with Bisset that he pretends to be her maid just to see more of her. Yes, it is starting to seem like no matter what she does, Jacqueline Bisset just can't stop smelling like smoldering, gorgeous sex.
Our friend Jackie seems to have made a lot of cheap, throwaway steamy romance novels turned into movies, but she has walked a strange line, with a wide array of projects on television and on the big screen. She also continues to make films with French titles with French people. You might think she was French based on her resume. In 1995 she had a key role in the critically acclaimed La Ceremonie (sometimes titled in English as "The Ceremony" or "A Judgement in Stone"). In 1998 she would appear in a supporting role in Dangerous Beauty which yearns to be a film about life in 16th century Venice.
The New Millennium
In 2001, Bisset would take another full turn in her career, this time portraying a woman in her fifties who has just learned she is dying of cancer. The Sleepy Time Gal was an independent film that shows Bisset at her dramatic best and was never released theatrically despite high praise at the Sundance Film Festival. You can, however, rent or buy the sucker. It's a good movie, but no cars blow up in it, so if that is what you like, I shall ask you to go to a different section of the store.
Bisset continues to be active, nearly constantly, even though she has slipped pretty much under the radar for the American movie viewing audience, which continues to have trouble dealing with its sexy young actresses reaching middle age. Check her out sometime. She could burn your socks right off if she wanted to. She really, really could.
Research of timeline and facts done at
allmovie.com and imdb.com
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