Barbara Bach

On August 27th 1947, Barbara Goldbach was born in the New York suburb of Queens, to a family with varied European origins - her Catholic mother was Irish, her Jewish father Austrian, and her Grandmother Rumanian. She attended an all-girls convent school on Long Island. It is also said that she attended the Sarah Lawrence School, whose other famous ex-pupils include, Liza Minelli, Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney.

When she was 16 she left school to become a model. A year later she shortened her name to Bach and began on a highly successful career as a leading American model with the Eileen Ford Agency. She became the cover girl for Seventeen which led her to top modelling assignments all over Europe. In 1965 she attended The Beatles famous Shea Stadium concert but wasn’t terribly impressed by the whole thing. She preferred the music of Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles and was only there as a chaperone to her younger sister "...because she was a Beatle freak. I wasn’t."

At the age of 18 she married an Italian Businessman and Producer named Augusto Gregorini and moved with him to Rome where she soon adapted to a new way of living. "He was 10 years older than me and he was from a wonderful family... Living in another country for 10 years, speaking their language, I almost had a completely different identity." They had a daughter named Francesca in 1969 who attended the famous Browns University in America where George and Olivia Harrison’s son Dhani also began studying, and a son whom they called Gianni in 1973. Gianni’s birth encountered complications when it was discovered that the Umbilical chord was coiled around his neck. This problem was brief but it cut off his oxygen supply. As Gianni grew up he had to cope with being a sufferer of Cerebal Palsy, but his rich father paid for a corrective operation in America, and the best therapy money could buy.

It was in Italy where she began her acting career. "In Italy I was casually asked on the street if I would do something for television. One of those things they say happens, and it did. Franco Rossi, an Italian director saw me doing that and then asked me if I would do The Odyssey." She had very little training, but succeeded due to her ability to pick things up quickly. "I’d done plenty of TV commercials so I knew the difference between appearing in front of a still camera and one used for motion pictures. But the only kind of theatrical training I’d had was at an actor’s studio at night for six months where I saw what they did briefly, but I was actually too busy working then to continue. I was again modelling when another director called me and said he’s seen Franco Rossi’s film and that physically I would be perfect for something he was doing. Fortunately two young Italians straight from the theatre were in it and the director was also a drama teacher. I picked up so many things from these people." Her first roles were in Italian B movies, but she eventually found herself with major parts in several international films such as The Jaguar Lives, and The Volcanic Island. "I never felt I was a fantastic beauty and I did not want to be known as a sex symbol. I had different parts offered to me where I was to play attractive, sexy people, but I was not interested."

Barbara found herself shocked by the way women were treated in Italy, and strongly believed that changes were due. "In Italy they were way behind in divorce laws and abortion. They were new ideas and people were fighting for them - and losing - which was incredible. Even though I didn’t vote in Italy, I believe that I physically helped the campaigners with my presence." In 1975 Barbara split up with Augusto and moved back to America where she found parts in professionally humiliating satires such as "Mad Magazine Presents ‘Up The Academy’ " in which "I could have been a stuffed doll" . She also took parts in minor chillers such as The Island of the Fish Men, The Humanoid and a remake of The Unseen on the set of which she met her new love - a cinematographer called Roberto Quezada. She also auditioned for a part in the TV series Charlie’s Angels, but didn’t realise what the part would entail and was by-passed for looking "too European, too sophisticated. I’m afraid I didn’t take them seriously enough when they asked questions like ‘What brought you to Hollywood?’. I’d often wondered myself. Somehow I sensed that the problem was not whether I could act but whether I could be fluffy enough."

Two years after her return to the States she took one of those "attractive, sexy" roles that she had been avoiding - offered to her partly because of her high cheekbones and accent - and became a Bond girl by securing the lead role of Anya in the tenth James Bond movie: The Spy Who Loved Me. This instantly catapulted her into stardom as an international sex symbol, and she featured in a very famous issue of the magazine Playboy. But she always made it clear that she wasn’t interested in making pornographic films. "I think they’re boring. I can’t understand why they still churn them out. I believe there are some top actresses who started that way. I’m not going to judge them, but I’m sure plenty of them do it painfully. I wanted to be able to do things that I was proud of, work with people that I admire. That’s the kind of drive I had. I think we’re all relatively ambitious in the sense that we enjoy this work." In 1978 she found a role to truly be proud of. It was the part of a Yogoslav Partisan called Marizza in Force Ten From Navarone in which she starred alongside Edward Fox and Robert Shaw. "This was a true story and Marizza was not attractive, wearing very little make-up as well as a uniform."

In 1977 Carl Gottlieb began preparations to make a prehistoric comedy called Caveman, and cast Barbara in the part of Lana, promising her a "huge comedy actor" as her leading man. When this actor turned out to be Ringo Starr her initial reaction was "We’re in trouble." When shooting was finally ready to go ahead and she arrived at the airport in LA to meet the rest of the cast, her leading man spotted her and instantly began to fall in love. But his already complicated love life stopped him from doing anything about it. He was already engaged to an American publicity agent called Nancy Andrews, in the process of getting back with his first wife Maureen in England, and also spent time with several other girls that he usually saw whilst jet-setting around the globe. During a party thrown the night before leaving LA to begin the location work for the film it was obvious that Barbara had feelings for him too but she was still with Roberto.

In Mexico work began on a scene where Atouk - played by Ringo - had to seduce Lana in her sleep. It was very complicated to work out exactly what would take place, and Ringo and Barbara had to spend many hours together with the director planning the shooting for the next day. The following morning Ringo and Barbara returned to the set to film the scene and the script supervisor - taking note of the way they were glowing, holding hands and gazing into each others eyes - remarked to everyone "Look, they’re in love".

"I was never that much of a Beatles fan, which made it easier. I just treated him like anyone else. As time went on, however, I was touched by his generosity. He is so patient and understanding. Let me give you an example. Ritchie can’t swim, but there’s a scene where he has to rescue me from a river. Carl said they could use a stunt man, but it’d be better if Ritchie jumped in. So he jumps. By the time he reaches me, he’s headed for the bottom. And when we get to the rock I’m literally pushing him up."

On the last day of filming he escorted her to a St Valentine’s dance. But it was when he took her to the Monaco Grand Prix that she really realised that she had fallen for him. "When Ringo invited me to his home in Monte Carlo to watch the Monaco Grand Prix I didn’t hesitate a second. It seemed totally natural."

On the evening of May 19th Ringo was driving Barbara along the dual carriageway of the Kingston bypass to a party in Surrey and had to swerve to avoid hitting a lorry at 60 mph. There had been a downpour that day and the road was slippy, sending them on a fifty yard somersaulting skid in which they rammed two lampposts. Ringo ignored his leg injury to pull Barbara safely out of the car, and then headed back to retrieve his cigarettes. By the time they reached Roehampton hospital to get Barbara’s cuts, bruises and painful back sorted out, Ringo had decided he never wanted to be separated from this woman ever again. He had the wreckage of his 1973 Mercedes 350SL crushed into a cube as a display piece, and tiny fragments of the windscreen set into lockets for him and Barbara to wear. Three weeks later Barbara told her father that she was going to marry Ringo.

While the happy couple were holidaying in the Bahamas, they received a telephone call from Barbara’s daughter Francesca to break the news to them that John had died. After making a phone call to Ringo’s ex-wife Maureen in Maida Vale to let her and Cynthia Lennon know the terrible news, they caught the next flight to New York via Miami so that they could offer their condolences to Yoko. On arrival at the Dakota Yoko insisted she would only speak to Ringo while Barbara waited in another room, but Ringo gently explained that he and Barbara were now one and the same, just like she and John had been... and still were.

Despite the fact that it was common knowledge that they were co-habiting a leased house of Sunset Strip, Barbara denied any marriage plans in her January interview with Playboy (featuring her on the front cover, and John Lennon’s last interview on the inside), saying she couldn’t "imagine why I would ever get married again. The way I am now, if I want to be with someone, I’ll be with that person but I see no reason to carry his name as well." She also made it clear that she had never been much of a Beatles fan, "I don’t think I could have named five of their songs a year ago. I was never really into music, though I am now - up to my ears. I’m surrounded by it because Richard is making another album." Now that he had Barbara, Ringo was ready to rejuvenate his musical career. Barbara was his inspiration and also his motivation: "She kicked me up off my ass and got me recording again."

On April 27th 1981 Barbara became the next Mrs. Richard Starkey at a ceremony in Marylebone Register Office performed by Joseph Jevons, who years earlier had married Paul and Linda McCartney in the same building. Paul and Linda were of course guests at the wedding as well as the reception at a Mayfair club called Rags, as were George and Olivia Harrison. Barbara’s wedding dress was designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel who created Princess Diana’s wedding dress, and the wedding cake was in the shape of a star.

From that day on they vowed to do everything together, so any project they undertook had to involve both of them. They never left each other even when doing interviews, travelled everywhere together, and only took parts in film and TV shows where there were parts for both of them - such as Paul McCartney's film Give My Regards To Broad Street and the TV show Princess Daisy. As time went by they found it harder and harder to find projects where both of them could be involved, and which they were both highly motivated towards. In 1989 Ringo said that in those days they would "sit around for hours and talk about what we were going to do - and, of course, I’d get so bleeding drunk, I couldn’t move. The result was - nothing happened."

By 1988 they were in real trouble as a friend explained. "Their biggest problem is alcohol. They’ve both been drinking heavily every day for years. Ringo and Barbara also are cocaine users. Ringo had been snorting up to a gram of coke a day, and Barbara said she’d been using about half a gram daily. In addition Ringo has a history of free basing (smoking cocaine). He also smoked marijuana every day and used hallucinogenics, mushrooms and downers. Ringo said that since they’d been married virtually all they’ve done is sit in a room and use drugs. Barbara revealed that the number one priority in their lives - more important than family, more important than each other, more important than anything. Both said they were convinced they were gonna die unless they got help."

At the lowest point Ringo was waking up from blackouts in which he’d destroyed everything around him, yet couldn’t remember a thing. One day he woke up from one of these blackouts to find he’s also attacked his wife. "I trashed Barbara so bad I thought she was dead. They just found her covered in blood and I’d beaten her up and I’d no idea...". He immediately decided it was time they sorted themselves out and got Barbara to book them into a rehabilitation clinic. Ringo was so paranoid from his coke use that he refused to let her out of his sight for a minute, so the couple insisted on being in the same room at the start of the treatment and none of the treatment centres would allow this. In October the Sierra Tucson Rehabilitation Clinic gave in to their demands when Barbara pleaded with them saying "Please, if you don’t help us we’re going to die." and after finishing the detoxification programme they were assigned to separate rooms. The pair of them have been drug and alcohol free ever since.

Barbara has put her acting career on hold for a while saying that "No work has been offered to me that is worth two or three months separation from my family." and seems content to spend her time involved in whatever projects her husband currently has lined up. "I don’t want to go back to full time working. I’ve learned to love just being with the family." Ringo seems to need her support in whatever he is doing.

Her husband frequently makes jokes about the time she spends shopping - "I hate going to Paris, whenever Barbara goes shopping in Paris I have to get another job!" - but Barbara finds many worthy things to occupy her time. She involves herself in a great deal of Charity work, including the Live Aid connected "Fashion Aid", and the Romanian Angel appeal which was set up with Olivia Harrison, Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney. While the others concentrated on getting the money coming in, Barbara spent a lot of time checking that the funds were used effectively. "It’s made such a difference. In one orphanage I visited, the walls have been cheerfully painted with flowers and the alphabet, and there are sinks and toilets." Barbara worked alongside Olivia again in the "Parents For Safe Food" Campaign.

In 1991 with help from Pattie Boyd, she set up a free clinic for addicts called SHARP (Self Help Addiction Recovery Programme) in London that used the Minnesota method. Compared with her former career, Barbara said this direction had "more meaning - and, in the future I’ll probably do some counselling." Barbara received a Masters Degree in Psychology from UCLA in 1993.

SOURCES: Interviews in Playboy, Weekend, Liverpool Echo, The E Beatle Wives Special and various newspaper articles and Beatles biographies

I originally wrote the first draft of this biography in 1998 for the She Loves You website. A startlingly similar biography appeared on The Barbara Bach Fan Site a few years later which I was quite unimpressed about and so I stopped contributing pictures and information to that website as I was upset that someone else was claiming ownership of something I had put a lot of time and effort into. People are more than welcome to use this biography on their website or publication, but I would appreciate being contacted first or a link to this website being placed along with the biograpy. This is the most current draft of the biography that I have written so far and I can still trace every fact in this piece back to it's original source and still own copies of all of the sources I used. So if anyone is using this article for research purposes, please contact me and I will supply you with all the relevant source information.

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