Sunday, May 8, 2011

Julie Ege (*November 12, 1943 - April 29, 2008)

Gorgeous girl from abroad with little inhibitions decides to trade on her looks and make it to one of the capitals of the Swinging 60s. Following a succession of stunning photo shoots, she becomes the Belle of the Ball and gets the chance to star in a bunch of movies that focus primarily on her beauty as opposed to her modest acting talent. After being the talk of the town for a while, what can she do? Where else can she go?

Well, one option is to “do a Denberg”, get involved with the wrong crowd, speed up a gear or three and enjoy the fast life with drinks, drugs and one man after the other before heading towards the inevitable mental breakdown.

As similar as both Susan Denberg’s and Julie Ege’s career paths at times seem to be, Ege personality-wise appears to have been the complete opposite to her Austrian fellow Hammer Girl. Despite being in the public eye at quite a young age, she eventually comes across as quite level handed. At the height of her career, she even did a complete U Turn and decided to move back to her native Norway and pursue a career as a nurse, an old childhood dream of hers and also earned a degree in English and History from the University of Oslo.

Julie (some sources claim she was originally named Dzuli, but that is completely unfounded) was born on November 12, 1943 in Sandnes, a small fishing village 15 minutes away from Stavanger, located at the coast in the South West of Norway and with just 115.000 people still the country’s forth biggest city. Nowadays Sandnes is known as the “Bicycle Town”: When you visit it you can borrow one of 200 bikes for touring around. It’s also a popular place for BMX tracks and dirt races. But I digress.

Ege started modelling right after finishing school at 15 and at the age of 19 became Miss Norway. She decided to move to London to pursue an acting and modelling career. She also worked as an au pair in the capital. (I know what you guys think now. Stop it!) Her first major break was being in the UK edition of Penthouse Magazine in May 1967 that led to a bit part in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and a small, but memorable and very nude role in the Martin Feldman vehicle Every Home Should Have One (1970).

In 1970 Julie – who at that stage had already been married and divorced twice - was personally chosen by Michael Carreras to be “The New Sex Symbol of the 70s”. In a competition she beat more than 900 other girls worldwide to this title and was offered a contract by Hammer. Prior to this competition her 36-24-36 physique had already generated a staggering 1657 column inches in British papers in a two year period. It remains one of the eternal mysteries why Hammer then subsequently decided to seriously tone down her looks for her prehistoric outing in Creatures the World Forgot. It’s the one movie in Hammer’s prehistoric series in which the female lead purposely does not come across like a Glamour Girl from B.C…. and I’m not talking British Columbia here, folks.

It took Hammer until 1973 before they starred her again in one of their movies. The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1973) is a much ridiculed, but taken in (or with) the right spirits a thoroughly entertaining Vampire/Kung Fu action movie in which she played side-by-side with Peter Cushing in his last performance as Van Helsing. Christopher Lee had already given up his Dracula role to slightly less impressive John Forbes Robertson.

In between the two Hammer movies Ege mainly appeared in a couple of comedies – Up Pompeii (1971), The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971) and Not Now Darling (1973). Her popular It Girl status was confirmed when she was allowed a cameo appearance in The Alf Garnett Saga (1972).

Prior to her move back to Norway she again mainly starred in comedies – Percy’s Progress (1974), The Amorous Milkman (1974) – and Horror/Sci-Fi movies – The Final Programme (1973), Craze (1973) and the truly bizarre The Mutations (1974). She also recorded a couple of songs that turned into minor hits.

Ege regrettably passed away far too young from breast cancer on March 29, 2008, and left behind two daughters, Joanna (who lives in Shanghai) and Ella.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I liked her in Golden Vampires. Her story was sad and charming!

Cliff said...

Here's a little more on the absolutely lovely Ms. Ege: