Saturday, August 14, 2010

Centrefold Venus of the Month 15: Francoise Pascal, August 1970

Francoise Pascal: Penthouse August 1970

Whilst Agent Triple P remembers there being very few attractive women in the media in the mid-seventies we do remember one or two from the time who made a strong impression on us (as opposed to other women whose charms we only discovered in retrospect).

Francoise in Israel 1970

One of these was French actress Francoise Pascal, who later became famous for her role in jovially racist sit-com Mind your Language (along with another seventuies favourite, Ingmar Bergman's daughter, Anna-who we will feature another time).

Francoise looking suitably military in Israel

She features in this slot as, early in her career she was the Penthouse Pet of the Month for August 1970. She was fairly unusual in that, unlike most Pets of the time she had already made some films and was becoming known as an actress.

On the cover

So here, from forty years ago, is one of the loveliest Pets from the Seventies and a huge favourite with most people at my school in the mid to late seventies, when she really became very well known in the UK.

Francoise perking up the day of some Israeli soldiers in front of what looks like a T34/85

Her Penthouse shoot was photographed in Israel by Israeli photographer Amnon Bar-Tur who would go on to be one of the great glamour photographers of the Seventies before setting up top printing firm Chroma Copy in the US.

Francoise perks up some serious Russian-built heavy metal

The text accompanying her pictorial was full of nonsense about her interupting her film career to join the Israeli Army as she was Jewish but this was all really just a way to justify the rather curious tank pictures inlcuded in the spread.

Francoise demonstrates the height of sea-level at the Dead Sea and a very 1970s looking hat

The first few pages of Francoise's pictorial are taken up with her messing around in uniform or touring the sights. These were the days when centrefolds were photographed dressed as well as undressed in their pictorials which gives us a wonderful window on to fashions past.

The pictorial only really takes off when she goes out to the desert near the Dead Sea. Penthouse hadn't been taking its models out of the country for location shoots for very long. A few years earlier and Francoise would have probably been photographed in a chilly flat in Chelsea.

Francoise strikes a pose in the desert

Francoise was twenty-one years old (she was born on 14th October 1949) when these pictures were taken and looks completely luscious.

This was one of the few periods when the US and UK Pets were aligned each month. Penthouse had only launched in the US 12 months before (September 1969).

Some of the previous Pets had been photographed with quite a lot of clothing on. This was probably to hide less than perfect bodies; Guccione famously wouldn't allow Playboy-style re-touching.

There is no such problem with Francoise. She can pose completely naked in the harsh desert sun and look utterly perfect from every angle!

Guccione had started to show his girls squeezing their breasts a few years before but none of the shots to date had had the unbridled, sexy, joie-de-vivre that Francoise demonstrates in her gorgeous tit squeezing photograph.

Squeeze them Francoise, squeeze them!

The magazine had only gone pubic a few months before so Francoise became only the third girl to flash her fur in a couple of pictures in the set.

Boing! Boing!

The running downhill picture has the added bonus of capturing some awesome bust bounce on her 37-24-36 figure.

At last there was no need for the girl to conceal her groin behind convenient foliage, Which is just as well looking at the terrain she was photographed in. The only bush belongs to Francoise!

Francoise (centre) aged five with her brother and sister in Mauritius

Although her pictorial said that she was French in fact Francoise was born on the island of Mauritius, the home of the Dodo, to French parents.

Francoise in her first film

She was educated in Paris and got her first acting role there, at the age of 11, in Les Miserables and then moved to London where she settled. She always wanted to become an actress as a child and got her first film part in the film Loving Feeling (1968) where she played a model.

Francoise looking groovy in 1969

In the last years of the Sixties she had a trendy short haircut: a quite different, but still appealing, look from the long tresses of her Penthouse shoot.

Giving it some oomph in hot pants for a publicity shot for Go Girl (1970)

In 1970 she filmed the Spanish-shot, British TV series Go Girl which was about a crime-fighting go-go dancer (no, really!) Perhaps its not surprising that the series was never shown!

She had more luck with the Peter Sellers film There's a Girl in my Soup (1970) that year. In 1971 she also got some good profile with her next TV project, as it was actually broacast: appearing in long running British TV soap Coronation Street.

Francoise on Coronation Street

Her next film was historical horror Burke and Hare (1972) about the famous Victorian body snatchers. Much was made in the poster about the saucy Victorian underworld and the producers took full advantage of Francoise's charms.

The film was known as The Bodysnatchers in the US and came out in two versions, as was not unusual at this time, one for UK cinemas and a naughtier version for Europe.

 Francoise in a publicity still for Burke and Hare

Getting naughty with Francoise, above, in Burke and Hare is Yutte Stensgaard, most famous for her role in Hammer Film's Lust for a Vampire (1971), who we may feature in the future.

La Rose de fer in Amiens cemetery

In 1973 she got her first starring role in the Jean Rollin film La Rose de Fer a somewhat experimental, minimalist piece largely featuring Francoise and the actor playing her boyfriend wandering around a spooky cemetery at night (actually Amiens cemetery, the resting place of Jules Verne).

 Francoise in La Rose de Fer (1973)

It was rather too experimental, perhaps, and did disastrously at the box office. For the next few years she only did television not appearing on the big screen again until appearing in the dire sex "comedy" Keep it up Downstairs (1976).

The only thing to recommend in this dreadful production is the sight of Francoise dressed as a French maid.

There is one scene where Francoise, as the maid, Mimi, gets her bottom spanked. By this point Francoise had got fed up with nudity in films and so used a bottom double; who was none other than tragic British glamour star of the late Seventies, Mary Millington. Frankly Triple P knows who he would rather spank.

Ooh la la!

One of the things that may have put her off appearing naked anymore was a shoot she did in 1971 for Paul Raymond's new magazine, Club International.

She was well known enough at this point for her name to feature on the cover of the very first edition. In fact, this cover which also featured a very perky nipple, was a very racy shot for 1972.

Francoise, looking rather skinnier than she had in her Penthouse appearance, later reported that the photo shoot was held in a freezing, unheated Thames-side house.

Nevertheless there is no sense of this in the splendid photographs by Leonardo.

Absolutely no need for a bottom double!

Looking very skinny in this one

Words fail us!

The Club International centrefold shot

In Mind Your Language

From 1977 until 1980 she appeared in the sit-com Mind Your Language, which was set in an English language school. It is most famous today for perpetuating every racial stereotype about virtually every racial group and nationality. We didn't notice at the time, of course, as we didn't have to pretend then that we didn't notice that all foreigners are barmy.

Francoise last year with wonderful Welsh character actor Philip Madoc

In the early eighties she moved to the US and appeared on stage and in TV there, including two years of the The Young and the Restless. In 1985 she won the Los Angeles Critics Award for her performance as Olivia in Twelfth Night. She moved back to the UK in 1987 and gave up acting, although she now runs a celebrity liaison/PR firm and is active in charity work, particularly The Sick Childrens Trust. She has written her autobiography and it is due for publication next year.  Can't wait!

Agent Triple P salutes Ms Pascal as one of the lovliest women of the Seventies and, indeed, the last forty years!

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