Beautiful, classy, stylish, sexy, talented, an internationally known model from the 60s and 70s, actress, wife, mother, and Masters Degree in Psychology from UCLA in 1993, she involves herself in a great deal of Charity work, these are just a few words to describe
Barbara Bach, now Barbara Starkey, Beatle Ringo Starr´s wife. Known for playing the Bond Girl
Anya Amasova in the James Bond film
“The Spy Who Loved Me “(1977) with the actor Roger Moore.
On August 27, 1947, Barbara Ann Goldbach was born to a family with varied European origins, in Queens, New York. Her mother was Irish catolic, her father- a New York City police officer - was Austrian Jewish, and her grandmother was Romanian. She has a younger sister, one brother a year older and another one a year younger.
A young Barbara was elected captain of her high school basketball team. She graduated from the all-girl Dominican Commercial High School in Queens, New York in
1964. A year later, she shortened her name to Bach and began a highly successful career as a leading American model with the famed
Eileen Ford Agency in NY.
She became the cover girl for "Seventeen" and her face was cover of every major magazine in the world. Her figure (35-24-35) let her to be considered a Top model with only
18 years old in 1965. She was one the most sought-faces in the
60s working with the Eileen Ford Agency and one of the highest paid models in the world, appearing on catalogs and the front covers of several international fashion magazines such as,
“Seventeen" (1965 and 1966), or the cover of
Vogue USA (July 1966) photographed by Richard Avedon, and the cover of
ELLE France (1966).
It was in that year, 1966, on a trip to Rome to model a line of fabrics, when she met
Augusto Gregorini, an Italian businessman 11 years older.
-"I first went to Italy on a modelling assignment. I met this atractive Italian on the plane and he eventually convinced me that it would be much nicer living in Italy for my career". She later rang up her parents and told them that she´d be moving to Italy: "My parents were not terribly thrilled with the idea of my moving to Italy, but they eventually got used to it".
Some months later, at the age of 18 years old, she married Augusto, taking her husband's surname after marriage,
Barbara Gregorini, and moved to Rome where she soon adapted to a new way of living. Barbara was working as a Model in Italy and began to appear frequently on fashion Italian magazines as "Gioia", "Amica" and "Bella", increasing her profile and developing her career.
It was Barbara Bach's move to Italy which led to an acting career;
She has said: -"I was casually asked on the street in Italy if I would do something for television. One of those things they say happens, and it did."-
Her acting debut was in a show for the Italian television entitled “Cordialmente” in
1967. She began to be famous early owing to her popularity reflected in the television audience and her husband was not comfortable with it, he preferred the anonimity.
Barbara and Augusto had a daughter named
Francesca in 1968 and a son, Gianni Andrea,
Franco Rossi, an Italian director asked her if she would play
“The Odyssey”, Italian TV miniseries broadcast on RAI (Italian state TV) in
1968, based on Homer's Odyssey. An Italian, Yugoslavian, German and French coproduction, the cast included Bekim Fehmiu as Ulysses and Irene Papas as Penelope. There were 8 episodes.
She made her movie debut with a small role, the Princess Nausicaa. At the same time, she was pregnant and expecting her first baby, Francesca. The series was successful in Europe and was noted for the credibility of its historic sources.
At the same time, she appeared as well on the front covers of international magazines as "ELLE" France (1968), and publications from others countries: "New Mode" Germany (1970), "Figurino" Brazil (1970), "Monique" Canada (1969-1970), "Diez Minutos" Spain (1970).
Barbara was chosen as "the most beautiful Model from Italy" in 1970, and did one Commercial for "Amaro Cora" in the Italian television; Barbara became one of the world’s most glamorous and in-demand models.
Barbara had several small rolls in several Italian films and one french film, along with the part in “The Odissey”, before she came to the attention of Bond producer Cubby Broccoli. Her first movie was
"Il Mio Padre Monsignore" (1971), after she did "La tarantula del ventre nero" (1971), "La corta notte delle bambole di vetro" (1971), "Un peu de soleil dans l'eau froide" (1971), Maschio Ruspante" (1972), Paolo di caldo" (1973), "L'ultima chance"(1973), "Il cittadino si ribella" (1974), "Il Lupo dei mari" (1975).
Three of them with the Italian actor
Giancarlo Giannini. She has said that - "he was kind and patient, he taught me much about acting". -
Barbara recalling that time: -"I
adore Italy, I lived in Rome for eight years. After a year I became fluent in the language and stopped feeling foreing, I began to think and feel Italian. My proffesional and social lives were completely Italian, but the natives constantly reminded me that I was American. I spoke Italian in my first movies, and never had to dub my voice, except for my one french movie".-
Barbara did not exactly speak with an Italian accent, but she had speech mannerisms and patterns learned in Rome which sounded somewhat foreign to the American ear as well. She was bilingual in both languages but with accent, which was an advantage to get some roles but a handicap as well to be selected for other ones.
She separated of Augusto in 1975 and moved back to America settling in L.A. The couple divorced in 1978 after 12 years of marriage, sharing custody of their 2 children.
-"My husband and I were always more friends than anything else. And we still are. He came often to visit us here in Los Angeles, in fact, he was here with the children when I was away filming, and we spent Christmas together. What happened to our marriage?, our lives took different paths, but there´s no recrimination".-
In 1975 Barbara Bach did a screen test for British producer-director
Tony Richardson; "The Bodyguard", a jet-set murder mystery he cowrote with Sam Shepard.
Richardson, who conducted the screen test, recalled his first meeting with Barbara:
"...Barbara had the look of a tiger, tall 1.7 m and streamlined 35-24-35, she was very sexy, Barbara Bach has often been compared to Brigitte Bardot in looks and image".
"Tony wanted to test me for one movie he was going to do". -
Barbara recalled laughing - "He called my agent who told him that I was American. Tony did´t believe it and telephoned me to be sure I could speak English. I tested for the picture but the movie never got made".
However, in 1976Bond producer "Cubby" Broccoli eventually saw her on this video casette and was suitably impressed with Barbara´s stunning beauty, poise, and talent.
-"I think" says Broccoli, "that I have been looking all my life for a leading lady who looks like Barbara Bach." -
She had a stunning face and figure, but it was her poise and talent that originally attracted producer Cubby Broccoli. After looking at footage from some of Barbara's previous nine Italian films, he and the
director Lewis Gilbert decided to give Barbara Bach a screen test for the role of Anya Amasova in "The Spy Who Loved
-"I did the test with an English actor on a Tuesday, -Barbara recalls-. They saw it on a Wednesday and I had a call from Mr. Broccoli inviting me to lunch with him and Mr. Gilbert. I did not know if I had got the part, I didn´t have the courage to ask. Then at lunch they told me they wanted me for the part. I was so excited that I could´t eat anything".-
In 1977 she became one of the most successful Bond Girl with the lead role of Anya in the tenth James Bond movie,
"The Spy Who Loved Me" with Roger Moore as James Bond.
Her part in the film led to the creation of an Anya doll (an action figure manufacturer made figures of certain Bond Girls). Barbara Bach's role as Anya instantly catapulted her into stardom as an international sex symbol and her name and photos in newspapers and magazines were all around the world. "The Spy Who Loved Me", gave to Barbara a particulary active role, her part is considered the most important ever created for any female Bond protagonist. Previously, Bach had only appeared in Italian and French films, this was her first English-language role.
In the May 1977 Barbara and Moore were at Cannes Film Festival promoting the film. The actress was accompanied to the event by Danton Rissner, aka
Dan Rissner, one executive producer with whom Barbara had been linked, a constant presence in her life, Dan accompanied her to many social events until 1979.
The film “The Spy Who Loved Me” opened with a Royal Premiere attended by Princess Anne at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on 7 July 1977. Barbara Bach got an exclusive pictorial feature in the June 1977 Playboy edition as part of the promotion of the film. This movie is considered by many people the best of the Roger Moore Bond films. The theme song, performed by Carly Simon is possibly the best known of all the James Bond film themes.
After this film, Barbara co-starred with Paul Shenar “The Mask of Alexander Cross”, a thriller made for TV only.
In 1978 she played a Yugoslav partisan called Marizza in
"Force Ten from Navarone", which also starred
Edward Fox, Harrison Ford, Franco Nero and Robert Shaw. This continuation of the story “The Guns of Navarone” (1961), was a mayor departure for Barbara, she was the only female cast member in the movie and plays a partisan, wearing ragged clothes and spending a lot of time with mud on her face.
She insisted on playing in just that way, without benefit of makeup or hair dresser, wearing authentic partisans’ uniforms. But the tens of thousands of fans, who sent her mail, after seeing her with James Bond, will recognize the same beauty in Navarone.
Force 10 from Navarone is a 1978 British war film loosely based on Alistair MacLean's 1968 novel of the same name. It is a sequel to the 1961 film, The Guns of Navarone. Barbara plays yet another spy, her second major english-speaking film. The movie was not very successful, but some war movies fans consider it a cult film nowadays.
Her career changed in 1979. The hit series
Charlie's Angels was looking for a replacement for Kate Jackson's role. More than 150 beautiful models and actresses auditioned for the role of new Angel
"Tiffany Welles". Barbara was tipped as the actress most likely to get the role. On April 13, 1979 the New York Daily News and many magazines around the world reported that Barbara Bach was the new angel.
David Doyle - "Bosley" on Charlie's Angels - said:
- "I remember thinking Barbara Bach had the role, she was attractive, and she could do the job". -
Ed Lakso, writer/producer on series, said:
- "The problem was that she looked very much like Jaclyn Smith ("Kelly Garrett" on Charlie´s Angels)."-
The New York-born Barbara Bach was deemed
"too European and sophisticated" for the role and model Shelley Hack won the part. Hack was not keenly accepted as an "Angel" by audiences, and after one season, she was replaced in Season five by the model-actress Tanya Roberts.
It was one of Barbara's major professional disappointments, but after some time she returned to focus on her career, combining work - including Bobbie Brooks fashion advertisements - and caring for her children at her Malibu home. She went back to Italy where appeared in the films
"L'isola degli uomini pesce" (1979), "L'umanoide" (1979), "Il fiume del grande caimano" (1979), and "Jaguar Lives!"
(1979) filmed in Spain.
Moved back to America and she did "Up the Academy" produced by Dan Rissner. In 1980 Barbara began filming the movie
"The Unseen", American horror film directed by Danny Steinmann, on the set of whith she met her new love, Roberto A. Quezada, photographer and filmmaker.
Ringo Starr met Barbara Bach on the set of the prehistoric comedy called
“Caveman” in February 1980, american slapstick comedy film written and directed by Carl Gottlieb and also starring Dennis Quaid and Shelley Long. Before this movie, Ringo Starr´s life and Barbara's life crossed on August 23, when Barbara attended The Beatles' historic Shea Stadium concert in NYC on 1965, she was one of the 55,000 jamming, although she was only as a chaperone for her younger sister Marjorie, Barbara preferred the music of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Dylan.
Bach was cast in the part of Lana and Ringo was cast as the leading man. Filming was mostly done in a protected ecological research area named "Sierra de Órganos" in the town of Sombrerete in the state of Zacatecas, México.
They had to play a scene where Atouk - played by Ringo – seduced to Lana in her sleep. It was very complicated to work out exactly what must taken place, and Ringo and Barbara had to spend many hours together with the director planning the shooting for the next day. The following morning Ringo and Barbara returned to the set to film the scene and the script supervisor - taking note of the way they were glowing, holding hands and gazing into each others eyes - remarked to everyone:
-"Look, they’re in love".-
But Ringo was already engaged to an American model called Nancy Andrews, and Barbara was still with the cinematographer Roberto Quezada. Ringo and Barbara started a new relationship just after their breakups.
Barbara later said:
-"The truth is, we weren't together until the very end of Caveman. Working, we got along fine, we spend time together, but we each had other people, our respective friends. Then, suddenly, two weeks before the end of shooting, we fell in love. We changed from friendly love to being in love, but it was just before we left Mexico. We had an on-camara love affair and somehow it just spilled over nicely into real life. It wasn´t quite love at first sight but it began to grow within days of meeting each other". -
Afterwards, he took her to the Monaco Grand Prix and she really realized that she had fallen for him.
Barbara said: -"When Ringo invited me to his home in Monte Carlo to watch the Monaco Grand Prix, I didn’t hesitate a second. It seemed totally natural.” -
Due to the price of fame they were victims of the harassment of the yellow press, Ringo and Barbara refused to discuss their romance with press. Ringo described her as "beautiful, sexy, funny, and warm-hearted". She called Star "quiet, sensitive, and intelligent". The film´s premiere was planned for 1981.
While traveling through England in May 1980 Ringo and Barbara suffered a near-fatal car crash, miraculously surviving with few injuries. They
were taken by ambulance to St Mary´s Hospital, amazingly, they were well enough to be discharged after a few hours.
They later said that the accident had convinced them were destined to stay together. They head back to L.A. During the flight, Ringo proposes marriage and Barbara accepts. On July 1980, Ringo announced
to the press that they'd getting married next year.
On 8 December 1980,
John Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman in the archway of The Dakota, his residence in New York City. Lennon had just returned from Record Plant Studio with his wife, Yoko Ono. Ringo and Barbara were travelling, and Barbara´s daughter called to inform them that John Lennon has been shot. Ringo and Barbara went to New York to console Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon. The last time Barbara & Ringo had seen Lennon & Yoko Ono was November 28 at The Plaza Hotel. Barbara recalled:
-"John and Ritchie kept hugging each other, like two brothers who hadn´t seen in a long time".-
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered to grieve outside Lennon home. In fact, every December since, fans have congregated outside the Dakota on West 72nd Street and across the street in Central Park, at the memorial to the former Beatle that is known as Strawberry Fields.
On April 27th 1981 Barbara became Mrs. Richard Starkey at a civil ceremony in Marylebone Register Office performed by Joseph Jevons, who years earlier had married Paul and Linda McCartney in the same building.
The McCartneys and Harrisons were guests at the wedding and reception at Rags (in Mayfair). Bach's wedding dress was designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel (who also created Princess Diana's wedding dress). The witnesses were Roger Shine and Hilary Gerrard. Guests included Ringo´s mother and his stepfather, Barbara´s parents Marjorie and Howard Goldbach, her sister Marjorie, and brothers, children Francesca and Gianni with Augusto, Barbara´s ex husband.
Now that he had Bach, Ringo was ready to rejuvenate his musical career.
Barbara was both his inspiration and motivation. Ringo and Barbara have enjoyed an enduring love ever since, and have been together more than 35 years. The couple has never welcomed any children together, though each one has children from previous marriages. They have
living in London, Monte Carlo and L.A.
Barbara also made a cameo appearance as a reporter in Paul McCartney’s movie
"Give My Regards to Broad Street"(1984) and after, she kept apart from the entertainment industry to devote herself to her family and support
the work of Ringo.
In 1989 she worked alongside Olivia Harrison in the "Parents for Safe Food"
Nowadays she involves herself in a great deal of Charity work, including the Live Aid connected "Fashion Aid",
and "The Rumanian Angel Appeal Foundation"
(RAA) which was set up in 1991 with
Olivia Harrison, Linda McCartney and Yoko Ono. RAA was created with the initial purpose of renovating the orphanages and institutions for the protection of children who were abandonated.
Nowdays RAA works for improving the quality of care and young people affected by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other chronic conditions leading to social exclusion and discrimination.
Barbara spent a lot of time checking to make sure that the funds were used effectively.
-"It's made such a difference. In one orphanage I visited, the walls have been cheerfully painted with flowers and the alphabet and there were sinks and toilets."-
In 1991 she set up a free clinic for addicts called SHARP (Self Help Addiction Recovery Program) in London that used the Minnesota method with the help of
George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Pattie Boyd. Moreover, in spite of all this activity, she managed to degree a Master in Psychology from
UCLA in 1993.
In 1998 Barbara and Ringo created "The Lotus Foundation”
in UK, and in 2005 in USA, a charity with several sub-charities. The objectives of the Lotus Foundation are to fund, support, participate in and promote charitable projects aimed at advancing social welfare in diverse areas including, but not limited to: substance abuse, cerebral palsy, brain tumours, cancer, battered women and their children, homelessness, animals in need.
Compared with her former career, Barbara has said that this direction had "more meaning, and in the future I'll probably do some counseling."
Ringo and Barbara have been inseparable since 1980, and Barbara has even appeared in some of his music videos and featured in his songs. Ringo had a new CD which was released on June 16, 1998 on Mercury Records called “Vertical Man”, the song "I'm Yours" is dedicated to Barbara Bach.
Marjorie Bach, Barbara´s sister, has married to Joe Walsh, guitarist with the band The Eagles. Joe Walsh also has toured with Ringo and his All Starr Band through the years. More than 800 items owned by Starr and Barbara Bach, were sold in auction. The unprecedented number of Beatles-owned objects was offered to benefit “The Lotus Foundation” in
2015, at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills (California).
In the last years Barbara has accompanied Ringo on his tours, she enjoys with her husband and her adult children, supporting them in their careers. Francesca Gregorini, Gay icon, beautiful singer and interesting film director. Gianni worked for his father´s firm and is now a businessman based en Los Angeles.
And 40 years after, Barbara is still fondly remembered as the stunning KBG agent from The Spy Who Loved Me.
"This Biography is based on information from press interviews, books, and articles of newspapers from Italy, USA, Spain, France and Australia". Carlos N. (webmaster)
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