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George Lazenby takes
a new domestic role
"mn Mo MLIA b hllKMLH JAMLS BOND
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"Now the interesting thing is that I gave up meat without thinking I was giving up anything - simply
because I didn't feel like
"Chrissie followed shortly
"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
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
"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
"So I went straight out, sold the catamaran, bought a ticket (stupidly for Sin gapore. where I thought the films were made) and took
"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
.'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
"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
"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
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
Christina's father is dead but her mother, Mrs Bonnie de Rham, was at Caxton Hall
as was her brother. Douglas
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."