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George Lazenby takes

a new domestic role

"mn Mo MLIA b hllKMLH JAMLS BOND

By

BETTY BEST

of our London staff

IT was instinct, plus an

instant ability to act,on it, which won George Lazenby his big new

contract as the star of "The Golden Needles

of Ecstasy," next in the series of Eastern spy films which are now top

world box-office.

Bui the Australian actor, who once starred as James Bond, insists that it was

social pressure, rather than

instinct, which made him decide to marry Christina Townson three weeks before their first child was born last month.

"Marriage is just like a parking ticket to me and to Chrissie." he told me the day before their ceremony at

Caxton Hall. London.

"We both think it is just something you decide to sign or not sign.

"We don t look upon this as the life-long marriage bit. but as a life-long relation- ship.

"But. because I don"t

believe that the permissive society will be running the world when our child grows up. I think our marriage will

make life easier for her.

"Tn fact, I think everything goes around in

circles. Lots of the kids about

today are puritanical, even

Victorian.

"So we decided that, for the kid's sake, we should do this.

"Then, of course, it mav

make a lot of people happier: not only our parents

in New South Wales but even our friends, who pretend not to be shocked because you are not going to give a child 'a name' (whatever that means), but who really are shocked

underneath."

As most of George's

friends are modern in their

outlook on most things social and political, this theorv seems to back up his first point rather neath.

The wedding was on August 23 and Melanie Andrea Lazenby was born on September 13.

George, who thought he was going to be very cool about his first child until they got to know each other, now admits that he feels just like any other lather.

"'She's the greatest in the world, of course.'" he told me a week after Melanie was born.

"What's more. 1 helped to bring her into the world and I can tell you it can be quite a frightening experience.

"I had just been hanging around the hospital waiting

for news when the doctor came out of the room and

gave me a mask and said to

come in.

"Of course. it was wonderful watching her born, but the frightening thing is that they look purple and apparently lifeless.

"When the nurse belted her on the behind and on the bottom of her feet and I

heard the first tiny murmur,

the relief was terrific. But

immediately I knew that

what she meant was 'Don't

wake me up!'

"How can you blame her? After all. she had a good nine months sleep just

before!

"Even her blue eyes are going hazel aireadv. I was surprised, because I always thought daughters were more

likely to take alter their mother and. as you know. Chrissie is very blonde.

"As she was 81b. 2oz.. she

is quite an armful already.

"Bul what pleases me most is her awareness, even at one week.

"She can be sound asleep but. if I bend over the cot

very quietly, her eves (licker open and she quite obviously

knows I'm there.

"Perhaps she may have

inherited what 1 learnt when

I was sailing. At night one is never fully asleep because one is listening in case the anchor drags or a line in the rigging begins to slip. It's

automatic."

George says they decided on Melanie's two names just because they liked them.

"We decided not to name her after anyone else because the lime might have come when we went off that person, and then we might have been less mad about our daughter."

Chrissie and George have been through plenty of adventures together since she

THEY DECIDED TO MARRY FOR

THEIR CHILD'S SAKE

first came to his flat in Eaton

Square three years ago with one of George's old girlfriends.

"She came to dinner and never left." is the family joke they both enjoy.

"But she has a docility which is the perfect opposite of my own temperament

which is why. if she is away for any time at all. 1 miss her dreadfully." George said.

"Once someone asked me

if I got high on alcohol.

"I said no. it only makes me sleepy.

"1 get real stimulation from people."

George and Chrissie take this child more seriously than some parents may because, shortly after they met.

Chrissie was told that she

could not have any children.

"So the baby came to us as a happy surprise." George

says. "We simply thought it couldn't happen. That's why it is so important."

George planned his new film soon after the baby was

due.

"It would have been

easier to get to Hong Kong, where we begin shooting, much earlier actually. But

the child has been more

important than any film, and when Chrissie was only three months pregnant we got on a big hunt for the best possible hospital.

"We were told about one in Wimbledon and. when I

went there, they answered every question of importance

1 asked them.

"What is interesting is that

Chrissie and I became

vegetarians a couple of years ago. Well, really 1 should sav

fishitarians. because once or twice a week we eat fish.

"I didn't really do it for moral reasons I did it

because 1 began to leave all

the meat served to me on the

plate and I atc the vegetables.

"Then I worked out that

if you eat dead meat you probably begin to be made into a dead person. And people told me that the

animals which were not

carnivores proved themselves to be more intelligent, longer living, and healthier than

those who were.

"I followed it through with the peoples of India who can't choose and simply eat what they can afford and

what is available.

"Those who did not eat meat (because they could not get it or afford it) lived longer than those who did. And it seemed they were

more aware and more

intelligent.

"Now the interesting thing is that I gave up meat without thinking I was giving up anything - simply

because I didn't feel like

eating it.

"Chrissie followed shortly

after.

"Now she eats even less fish than 1 do, about once a week. Yet when she went to the doctor to have her

pregnancy blood tests the

doctor said: 'Please tell me what your diet is. You have the best blood condition I've ever come across'.'"

Christina must also have a

courage which is rare.

After he helped to make, produce and generally write,

as well as star in "Universal Soldier" (a film into which he and director Cy Endfield put all their own pacifist beliefs for no pay at all). George was discouraged

about the film business and

bought himself a big catamaran as a way out of the

rat-race.

He knew nothing of sailing or navigation but within three days of getting his unwieldy ship in Malta he took off one dark night for Sicily, with only Chrissie

for his crew.

"There are certain women

who will follow you wherever you go and others who won't. Chrissie is one of the former.

"My mates in Malta said: .Just stick to 350 degrees and

hope for a straight following wind and you can't miss the

harbor of Syracuse.' Well. 1 , did just that and got the straight following wind, so my only trouble was to stop

her in the harbor.

"Another bloke who knew more was due to come with us. but he fell in love just before and couldn't

make it.

"We came in right on target and went on later from there to Fuimicino, at the mouth of the Tiber outside Rome.

"There we lived on about

five pounds a week - mainly the proceeds of the Bond film plus the little art film I made in Italy called ^Who Saw Her Dying?' - I've

never seen it but at least it

helped keep us for 15 months on the catamaran, and that kind of life brings sanity.

"For the Italian film I had needed to learn the

language. Now we lived on

fish from the local fishermen

and vegetables and fruit from the local growers. We were accepted as one of the local families. It was a good life and we grew healthy and happy together there.

"But I'm still run by

instinct and when I went to watch one of those Eastern

films in the Bond style in London I suddenly thought:

'This is technically great, but, as a European viewer, I need a Western face to identify

with.'

"So I went straight out, sold the catamaran, bought a ticket (stupidly for Sin gapore. where I thought the films were made) and took

ofT.

"In Singapore I discov- ered they were made in Hong Kong. I had to get

another ticket for there.

"There I contacted the

people who made the original films, starring Bruce Lee, Run Run Shaw being the original producer.

"Through them I met the producer of Lee's latest films, Raymond Chow and, through him. Bruce Lee himself. Despite the fact that

he had become a millionaire through his films, he was one of the greatest people I've

ever met and we became friends immediateh.

"I understood him and he understood me. and he

began to tell me the whole technique of these extraordi-

nary films in which the

actors use the kung fu form of fighting and are physical

TIAR A mn AND UAUUHILH - IN IHKLL wttîtt

GEORGE LAZENBY and wife, Christina, proudly show off their daughter, Melanie Andrea, born in a London hospital last month.

Picture by DEREK BROOK.

freaks.' being perfect

acrobats.

.'He was so generous and kind to me that 1 wanted to give him a return dinner.

"On July 20 I invited him and Raymond Chow to dinner at Bruce's favorite

restaurant.

"Remember, this man, who was born in Hong Kong, was no slouch. He had graduated from Seattle University, had become the karate champion of America in 1964. and then returned to do these pictures with only $50 in his pocket.

"He was meticulous about turning up on time.

"When he was late, Raymond phoned and was told that he seemed asleef and they could not wake him

"He died that night.

"So 1 held the cheaue hi

gave me to act in a film with him, which, because he was dead, was worthless."

However, George said, Raymond Chow took up

Bruce Lee's idea to star the Australian in the next film.

This one will be shot half

in Hong Kong and half in Hollywood, with an Ameri-

can director and cameraman.

George sees it as a fresh

start but is still idealistic

enough not to see the money as the main point.

"I have worked out every day for two hours and have run three miles every morning to get fit for the

role.

"It is the most taxing form of film fighting activity in the

world. You can't be slow and

hope to look as if you're standing up to these experts.

"But you learn from the

fight masters employed on the film, learn a bit of karate and a bit of ballet and hope to keep on your feet.

"What I mostly want to do is earn us enough money to live the way we want to.

"Nothing on earth could buy me into the degradation of another Bond film, with all that entails."

His and Chrissie's real

lack of greed about money

was well illustrated when her

grandparents, who own a chain of newspapers in America, heard that she was pregnant and sent them a big cheque.

They sent it back, with

thanks.

When I asked George why, he said: "Well, it may

sound a little mad. because it

would certainly have kept us for a year. But they sent it

because they thought we were getting married.

"At that point we were not planning to marry, so we thought it was wrong to accept."

George was sorry that his parents were not able to go to London for the wedding, because they got on so well

with Chrissie in Australia.

"We phoned them and talked to them in Queanbey- an instead, and they were

both thrilled. We all had a

great Christmas together in

1970."

Christina's father is dead but her mother, Mrs Bonnie de Rham, was at Caxton Hall

as was her brother. Douglas

Townson.

More musicians than

actors turned up to "see off their friend, George. He has always preferred their

Company to that of most actors and was delighted

that Maurice Gibb and Keith Moon of the Who could make it.

Where the Lazenbys will live, now there are three of them will depend very much on George's success with his

first Eastern film. '

With Angela Mau and Ching Pie Pie, the two most popular actresses in the East,

as his co-stars, "The

Golden Needles of Ecstasy" is practically assured of a good box-office.

The title refers to

acupuncture needles made of gold, "which are believed to produce more ecstasy than any thing else in the world.'

"So precious are they that people in the Orient will do anything to acquire them." George explained. "The plot

revolves around the factions

which try to steal them.

"It will be great if Chrissie is well enough to come and join me in Hong Kong for the first shooting

and then come on to Los

Angeles for the second half.

"But, of course, I shall leave it up to her. Her

mother has a house in Scot-

land she can go to if she would prefer it.

"I'm excited to be able to

concentrate on just acting in

this film. On 'Universal Soldier' I was involved in the

production, the writing and

even a bit in direction.

"I don't think I'm a good enough actor to get fragmented like that on a job. Now I can give my full concentration to acting I hope it will be good and lead

to other roles."

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