Who was Cassandra Harris?
Cassandra Harris Brosnan was an Australian-American actress famous for her portrayal of Countess Lisl von Schlaf in the Roger Moore starring James Bond movie, ‘For Your Eyes Only’. She was equally famous for being married to the next ‘Bond’ actor, Pierce Brosnan. Until her tragic and untimely passing away from ovarian cancer, she was the biggest influence in his life. It was she who was responsible for Pierce being introduced to iconic Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli and then being cast for the titular role. Thus, it comes as no surprise that while talking about her, he said, “She made me the man I am, the actor I am, the father I am”. Cassandra was an accomplished actor in her own right. Besides appearing in TV series’ like ‘Dick Barton: Special Agent’ and ‘Remington Steele’ she also starred in movies like ‘The Greek Tycoon’ and ‘Rough Cut’ among many others. She was also involved with charities raising awareness about ovarian cancer, and her death left a profound impact on all who knew and loved her.
Career & Fame
After graduating from the ‘National Institute of Dramatic Art’ in New South Wales, Australia, Cassandra performed in the massively successful stage production of ‘Boeing Boeing’ (1965 – 1965). She met her first husband William at the same time and moved to London to join the ‘National Theatre’.
She then started acting in plays and auditioning for TV roles. In 1977, Cassandra got her first big break on the sci-fi TV series ‘Space: 1999’, in the episode ‘Devil’s Planet’. She made her movie debut with ‘The Greek Tycoon’ (1978), which was loosely based on the romance between Jacqueline Kennedy and Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The movie was both a critical and commercial disaster, earning a nomination at ‘The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards’ in 1978. However, Cassandra’s performance brought her positive attention and opened up new avenues. The same year she was also seen in the TV series ‘Shadows’.
1979 turned out to be a great year for the young actress. She had already divorced her second husband and was introduced by a friend to actor Pierce Brosnan. The chemistry was instantaneous and they started dating and later got married in 1980. She also landed the recurring role of Melissa in the TV series ‘Dick Barton: Special Agent’ in 1979.
In 1980, Cassandra was seen in the TV show ‘Enemy At The Door’ and the movie ‘Rough Cut’. The next year she became one of the few actresses to become a Bond girl, when she was cast as Countess Lisl von Schlaf in ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (1980). The role made her a global megastar. In the next few years, she slowed down a little because of her health and appeared multiple times as different characters on the show ‘Remington Steele’. Consequently, her last on-screen presence was in the short ‘Five Days’ in 1989.
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Cassandra Harris was born, Sandra Colleen Waites in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on December 15, 1948, to Walter Waites and Roma Waites. Roma passed away at an early age, suffering from ovarian cancer.
In 1961, at the age of 12, Cassandra went to study at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in New South Wales and took the stage name Sandra Gleeson. When she was only sixteen years old, she got married to architecture student, William Firth, on February 24, 1964. She relocated to London, to join the ‘National Theatre’.
Her marriage to William Firth ended in 1970 and she got married to the British movie producer, Dermot Harris, the same year. They had two children together, daughter Charlotte (born November 27, 1971) and son, Christopher (born November 11, 1972). Around this time she started using the name, Cassandra Harris, as her stage name. After her divorce with Dermot in 1978, she fell in love with and married actor Pierce Brosnan, on December 27, 1980. Their son Sean was born on September 13, 1983. Pierce later adopted both Christopher and Charlotte after the death of Dermot Harris in 1986.
Unfortunately, in 1987, while living in the USA, Cassandra got diagnosed with ovarian cancer, just like her mother. After a four year battle, she passed away surrounded by her family, on December 28, 1991, in Los Angeles, California. The same disease would later take away her daughter’s life on June 28, 2013. Speaking of his wife’s death, Pierce later said, “I held the generous, strong, beautiful hand of my first wife Cassie as ovarian cancer took her life much too soon”. He has since become an active proponent of raising help and awareness about cancer.