Caroline Munro was born on 16th January 1949 in Windsor, England. When she was 17 years old her mother and a photographer friend of hers entered some of Munro’s headshots in The Evening News‘s “Face of the Year” contest.
I wanted to do art. Art was my love. I went to art school in Brighton but I was not very good at it. I just did not know what to do. I had a friend at the college who was studying photography and he needed somebody to photograph and he asked me. Unbeknownst to me, he sent the photographs to a big newspaper in London. The fashion photographer, David Bailey, was conducting a photo contest and my picture won.
Winning the competition led to modelling work for Vogue magazine and resulted in Munro moving to London to pursue various top modelling jobs and became a major cover girl for fashion and TV advertisements. Soon film roles followed in Casino Royale (1967) and Where’s Jack? (1969).
As a result of one of her advertisement campaigns, Munro was given a screen test at Paramount. The screen test was a success and Munro gained a one year contract with them; this led to the role of Richard Widmark’s daughter in the 1969 comedy western A Talent for Loving.
In 1971 she appeared alongside Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes, playing the deceased Mrs. Victoria Regina Phibes:
The most challenging scenes involved lying in the coffin with Vincent … You see, I’m allergic to feathers and I was attired in this beautiful negligee – but it was covered with feathers! It took a great deal of willpower not to sneeze or sniffle. On occasion, I would simply have to sneeze and this would result in having to do another take.
She reprised the role in the 1972 sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again. Also in 1972 she was mentioned in Colin Blunstone’s song “Caroline Goodbye”, a song about the break-up of their relationship.
Around in 1971, Sir James Carreras – Hammer Films CEO, spotted Munro on a Lamb’s Navy Rum poster/billboard and immediately sent his right-hand man, James Liggett on a mission to track her down. Liggett found her and arranged a screen test.
Following her screen test Munro was immediately signed to a one-year contract. Her first film for Hammer proved to be a turning point in her career. It was during the making of Dracula AD 1972 that she decided from this film onward she was a full-fledged actress.
In 1973, Brian Clemens helped Munro get the role of Margiana, the slave girl in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad:
I got the part – I had been signed by Hammer, for one year, for a contract, out of which I did two films, one being Dracula AD 1972, and the second one being Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, which, kind of, would come full-circle, to Sinbad. It was written and directed by Brian Clemens, who wrote the screenplay for The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, so, I was lucky enough to be chosen for Captain Kronos, and they were searching for somebody to do Sinbad, and they wanted a big name, somebody American, or well-known, but Brian said “No”. He kept lobbying Charles Schneer[producer] and Ray Harryhausen — saying: ‘I think you should come and look at the rushes, and see what you think, because I think she’s right’. So, they said “No”, but, eventually, Brian persuaded them to do that, and they saw the rushes, and that was how I got the part. So, it was lovely, like work-out-of-work. I was very lucky to have done that.
In 1974, Munro appeared in Brian Clemens’ Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter as well as I Don’t Want to Be Born (1975) with Joan Collins, At the Earth’s Core (1976) with Peter Cushing and Doug McClure, The Angels of Death (1977), and The New Avengers.
In 1977, Munro turned down the opportunity to play villainess Ursa in Superman in favour of Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me.
In 1979, Munro appeared in Starcrash, further roles saw her through the 1980’s including Maniac, The Last Horror Film, Don’t Open Till Christmas, Slaughter High, Howl of the Devil, Faceless, Demons 6: De Profundis (aka Il gatto nero) in 1989, and quiz show 3-2-1.
Munro has the distinction of being the only actor ever signed to a long-term contract by Hammer Films. She would later turn down the lead female roles in Hammer’s Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, and the unmade Vampirella because they required nudity.
Later roles include in Night Owl (1993), To Die For (1994), Domestic Strangers (1996), Flesh for the Beast (2003), The Absence of Light (2006), Aqua Tales (2012), Vampyres (2015), GirlForce (2016) and 315 Wicked Way (2017).
Munro today acts as a Trustee of the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation.
Categories: Heroes of Cult