When Valerie Leon left school her first job was as a trainee fashion buyer for upmarket London store Harrods. Not long after starting, and revealing her true ambitions, she decided to throw a sickie and attend an audition, the success of this led to her playing a chorus girl in the West End stage version of ‘Funny Girl’ alongside Barbra Streisand and rarely being off British cinema and television screens in the sixties and seventies thereafter.
During her time as an actress Valerie has been a Bond girl twice, added some glamour to Hammer film’s production of ‘Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb’, appeared in six Carry On films, whipped Peter Sellers in the ‘Revenge of the Pink Panther’, played a hotel receptionist in ‘The Italian Job’ (blink and you miss her) and a secretary in the swinging sixties flick ‘Smashing Time’.
On top of that she also appeared in numerous television shows, such as The Saint, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Up Pompeii!, The Avengers, Space 1999, The Persuaders and of course The Goodies.
Here we see Valerie in another of her television roles, this time starring in the first advert for legendary men’s ‘aftershave’ Hai Karate in 1969. Watch the statuesque actress karate chop a diminutive be-suited male visitor around her flat before smothering him Leon style. Clearly men who wear Hai Karate are utterly irresistible. This ad became a bit of a Christmas fixture and was aired over the festive season for seven consecutive years during the 1970s.
We’ve also added for your viewing pleasure our very own special VoEA Valerie Gallery. This includes pictures of her with big Bernard Bresslaw alongside the Carry On team and sees Val spending time in the company of pint-sized comics Ronnie Corbett and Charlie Drake.