Annette Andre was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. She studied ballet, and appeared with the Australian Ballet Company before turning her attention to acting. Annette appeared on radio and television in Australia before heading for the United Kingdom in the early 1960's in order to advance her career there. She appeared in numerous television programs, among them being 'The Saint', 'The Baron' and 'The Avengers' before securing the leading role of Marty Hopkirk's widow Jeannie in the ITV cult classic 'Randall and Hopkirk (deceased)'.
In 'Randall & Hopkirk (deceased)' by Geoff Tibballs, Annette remembers that she very nearly turned down the part of Jean Hopkirk: 'I believe I was considered for 'The Champions',' says Annette, 'but in the end they decided that Alexandra Bastedo would be better. So when Randall & Hopkirk came along, they offered that to me. Funnily enough, I didn't want to do it. I thought: "A series, oh no, I'll be typecast and ruined for television." But my agent said I should do it and some friends gave me the same advice so I relented. But I was a bit against it at first - I was a little worried. And to some extent my fears were justified because when the series ended, I couldn't find any work for a year.'
Annette is under no illusions about her role in the series. 'I was the standard pretty girl with smart clothes and legs. Those sorts of character were very stereotyped but luckily the series itself turned out not to be, which was wonderful. And Jean's part expanded as the series went on. Instead of just sitting about in the office, picking up phones, she was allowed to help with cases and become involved in the actual detective business.
'Unfortunately in those days, the girl in the series was always the lesser character in the producer's eyes. You were regarded as somehow being less important than the men. It was very unfair - it wouldn't happen now. But you were just the girl, a selling point for the American market. Consequently, I didn't get to see the scripts early on. I wasn't really consulted although Ken and Mike were. Eventually though, I did work on the scripts with Ken and Mike to get more comedy put in. I think the production team were afraid of doing more comedy but without it, the show would not be as popular as it is today. Even so, we all thought there could have been more comedy in Randall & Hopkirk.'
There may sometimes have been a dearth of amusement on screen but there was certainly no shortage on set. 'We used to have a terrific time,' says Annette, 'it would be quite hysterical. The three of us got on very well and there were a lot of practical jokes, a lot of laughs. I'm an awful "corpser" and Ken in particular would deliberately do things to make me laugh, to make me look at him. His favourite trick was to brush against my knee as he walked past. Since only Mike was ever allowed to react to him, that would start me giggling and we'd have to do the scene all over again. I had played a wife before several times but my husbands were always alive. It did make things rather easier....'
'But we did have a lot of fun. Department S were in the studio at the same time and Joel Fabiani, who played Stewart Sullivan, used to come over to our set to have a few laughs with us. He always thought it was much more fun that on his own set. And the crew were terrific. They would do anything for you and didn't pull the plug if we ran ten minutes over.'
Annette too remembers the set-swapping that used to prevail between rival productions. 'Whoever was taking over the library set would immediately re-dress it by putting in a couple of new books or changing a vase, just to make it look different.
'We had to be very good at doing scenes in one take. It became a standing joke when we'd see Monty Berman, bless him, on the set with his watch. I'd say, "It's got to be one take" and then Ken would do something so that there had to be a second take. Poor Monty would get very annoyed. We used to like to stir up the producer....'
Like Kenneth Cope, Annette's main memory of location filming on Randall & Hopkirk (deceased) surrounds the regular excursions to graveyards. 'We spent an awful lot of time in graveyards,' she says ruefully, 'and it always seemed to be in winter. I nearly froze to death. To make matters worse, we only had one tiny caravan in which to sit between takes and for ages, it didn't even have a heater. That caravan was a monster - it was so small we could barely sit down. And we really had to kick up a fuss to get a heater.
'When I'm cold, I just cut off. I can't think of a thing - my mind goes. So I used to wear layers of clothing beneath what you'd see on screen. Inevitably of course, on top would be a lightweight dress because it was meant to be a different time of year. I'm sure a lot of the time I looked much fatter than I really was!
'Alexandra Bastedo guested in one episode, "Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?", and one night she and I had to have this fight in a graveyard. It was so cold and she had this pair of wonderfully warm mittens. On her last day of filming, she gave me the mittens to keep me warm through the rest of the series. I've still got them and I still wear them when I'm really cold.'
Despite the cold, Annette retains a warm feeling for Jeannie. 'She was a very nice woman with a bit of spark to her. She had a good sense of humour and clearly liked Jeff. I think had we gone on to do a second series, we could have got plenty of mileage out of the relationship with Jeff. Of course it could never have come to fruition - Marty would not have allowed that.
'I think my favourite episode was probably "The Ghost Who Saved The Bank At Monte Carlo", if only because it was meant to be set abroad which, even though it was all done in the studio at Elstree, at least gave us a feel of doing something different. Also, I was able to have glam hairstyles for that episode and wear evening dresses. So I rather liked that....'
In 1989 Annette married the American producer Arthur Weingarten, and has since made her home in New York state. Both Annette and her husband are very active in the area of animal welfare.
'I work as a volunteer with the Born Free Foundation for the Welfare of Wildlife, run by Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, and I do talks in schools and clubs. I've always been interested in that area and while in America, I became involved with animal rescue. When I came over here, I went to a meeting where I met Virginia and Bill. I said to them: "There must be something I can do - if nothing else, I can talk." Now both Arthur and I work on a voluntary basis - he's mad about animals too. It's very close to my heart.'