German actress Karin Dor, known to Bond fans as henchwoman Helga Brandt in You Only Live Twice (1967) was born in February 1938 in Wiesbaden (Germany) as Kätherose Derr. In 1954, she married Austrian director Harald Reinl, who was 30 years her senior and father of her only child, her son Andreas. This was only possible because she made herself two years older than she actually was. She subsequently played in many of his movies, especially his (in Germany) hugely popular Edgar Wallace and Karl May movies (the latter being a series of German “Western” movies in which one of the main characters went by the name of “Old Shatterhand” played by Lex Barker) and she became one of Germany’s most popular and busiest actresses of the 1960s.
Her success didn’t go unnoticed by the Bond producers and they were eager to cast her for You Only Live Twice. How eager? Dor told German movie journalst Billy Kocian: “Mr. Saltzman only wanted to pay 40.000 Marks (about $10.000 at the time), but upon this offer I just turned around on my heels and walked away. I had plenty of offers and my husband earned a lot of money at the time. Saltzman came running after me, and with a face as white as chalk, he grudingly signed the contract, hissing: ‘I never signed anything like that in my whole life.'”. In the end, she was paid 200.000 Marks (other sources even claim 250.000) for the role.
After the success of You Only Live Twice, Dor played in many international movies, most noteably in Hitchcock’s Topaz and had guest roles in TV series like Ironside or It Takes a Thief.
Her divorce from Harald Reinl in 1968 and a carcinosis affected her movie career but did not stop it, she was always busy through the years. In 1986 she married her third husband, stuntman George Robotham and moved to the United States with him. A marriage with a German businessman only lasted from 1972 to 1974.
She still had roles in Germany TV series and movies, but after her husband’s death in 2007, she focussed on playing theater, especially a play that was written for her, named “You Only Love Thrice”, at the Komödie im Bayerischen Hof in Munich.
In July 2016, she had an accident from which she suffered a massive concussion. She seemed to have recovered rather soon but her return to the stage turned out to be to early. She had to rest and wasn’t even allowed to read newspapers by early 2017. In July 2017, her manager told German tabloid “Bild” that Dor wouldn’t return and that the only thing fans could do for her was pray.
Karin Dor passed away on November 6th 2017.