Urged by Her 28-Year-Old Lover, Harry Hamlin, Ursula Andress Faces Motherhood at 44
updated 05/05/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/05/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
It is the most important thing that ever happened to me," exults Ursula Andress, the Swiss-born actress and seven-time Playboy plaything. At the ripe age of 44, she is expecting her first baby in mid-May. "Let's say I had an incredible life up until today, and now I think it's time for a change."
The father is Pasadena-born actor Harry Hamlin, 28, who starred in Movie, Movie and the NBC miniseries Studs Lonigan. They became lovers while working on the movie Clash of the Titans, to be released next year (Harry plays Perseus; Ursula, Aphrodite). After the wrap they vacationed in Egypt, where Ursula suffered with what she thought was the Nile version of "Delhi Belly." Instead she discovered, to her astonishment, that she was pregnant.
The decision to have the child was made with Hamlin's support. "Ursula is from another planet. She will never lose her love of living," chimes in her adoring man. "She has more energy than 12 people, and she loves like no one else." Adds Ursula: "He is very excited about the baby and is very strict about me, more strict than I am." They are planning on marriage in the near future, "but not where you get married in a dismal legal building," interjects Harry. "It is important for the child," explains Ursula, who is contemplating a U.S. ceremony. "With the world situation I would like the baby to have the choice of both American and Swiss citizenship."
Though known for her calculation, Andress did not fall for Hamlin because of his nationality or to be part of the older woman-younger man trend. "Sex comes with love, and I'm not just choosing it by age," she asserts. "I'm not having a sex affair; I'm having a love affair. A love affair is something completely different every time," she continues. "I'm not an animal that says I will only have sex with somebody that's younger or only with blonds. Anyway, what is 40? It depends on the way you live. If you get drunk and take a lot of drugs you will probably already be destroyed at 30," she figures.
While pregnant, Ursula has followed no special diet, but drinks milk, eats more eggs and takes vitamins. Though an active sportswoman, she is aware that "at my age my muscles and my bones won't give so easily. I'm very narrow in the pelvis and I've got such strong muscles—we don't know if everything will give." Because the baby is large, a cesarean is likely. She frankly found birth classes "terrifying." "I'm going to learn how to breathe and that's it," she says. She would like to nurse her child for at least three weeks, "to give him antibodies and good things so he can build up his resistance, because I'm going to run around the world and he'll have to be pretty strong." (As is recommended for mothers over 35, she took the amniocentesis test, which determined that the fetus was healthy—and a boy.)
The indefatigable Andress concedes that her 20 extra pounds tire her. "I come home, put my feet up and fall asleep with my boots on," she laughs. "I can feel the baby move; he's pushing on my liver all the time. While I'm running around he's quiet, but when I'm lying down in bed I feel him jumping," she observes. "I think he's happy when I'm running around, and that's good because he's getting training for what life is going to be."
Born in Bern (her father worked for the government), Ursula had four sisters and one brother. She was raised strictly—"with absolutely rigid discipline, like medieval times. I wasn't allowed to talk at the table unless I was addressed," she recalls. "I was not allowed to see boys or go to dances until I was 17." At 18 she took off for Rome, where she appeared in three quickie Italian films. That led to a contract with Paramount and to Hollywood. There she met and married fledgling actor John Derek. "I always look for a man who will help me, that I can learn from," she explains. "John will teach you only the best and try to get the best out of you as he does now with Bo."
In 1962 Ursula played the wet bikini role in Dr. No, which launched the James Bond craze. Her marriage, however, dissolved. "I couldn't lie to John," she says of her indiscretions. "I was taken by curiosity while John is not one who plays around." They still remain close, and when Ursula broke her arm two years ago, "Bo came every day and took me to therapy," says Ursula. "I hope for Bo's sake she will stay with John."
Andress was back in Rome for most of her pregnancy to buy baby things, such as a $3,000 antique carousel horse, and to ready a new apartment in the suburbs. "I said to Harry, leave," she says. "I do it myself. Every day there is something wrong and having somebody with you slows you down." Now, however, Ursula is settled for the moment in Harry's one-bedroom cottage overlooking Laurel Canyon. (She owns a house in Beverly Hills, now rented, and places in Ibiza and Switzerland.) Although he has assembled the bassinet Ursula brought from Rome, Hamlin admits everything is up in the air: "We may move to another house in Los Angeles or we may live in another country." A serious dramatic actor, he is a Yale graduate who studied with the ACT rep company in San Francisco and is currently working with Lee Strasberg. Ursula wisely understands that "there is nothing constant in acting, so I can't restrict him. He has to have the freedom to move."
Overnight the once flighty sex goddess who refused even to take on the responsibility of pets has been transformed into a concerned earth mother. "I've got to think of everything: schools, the wills, all that," she notes. Harry speaks for both of them when he says: "With the baby, I feel that I am taking off my training wheels and getting into the mainstream of life."