Quick, what was the first James Bond movie? If you said Dr. No, well, you gave the expected answer, and perhaps the technically accurate one — it was the first feature film based on a Bond novel to play theatrically. But the first onscreen appearance of Ian Fleming’s creation was a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale, which aired as part of the anthology adventure series Climax! While it may have had little in common with the film series that began eight years later (it featured an Americanized “Jimmy Bond,” CIA agent), it did have one indispensable element: the so-called “Bond girl.” Though the character of Vesper Lynd (played by Ursula Andress in the 1966 Casino spoof/adaptation, and Eva Green in the much-more-faithful 2006 version) was rechristened “Valerie Mathis,” she provided the seduction-and-betrayal angle familiar from our encounters with so many of Bond’s later leading ladies.
This arcane footnote of Bond trivia makes its way to your Flavorwire with an unfortunate pretense; Linda Christian, who played Valerie Mathis on that TV version of Casino Royale and was thus the very first Bond girl, died last week in Palm Springs at age 87. Her other film appearances included Up in Arms (with Danny Kaye), Green Dolphin Street (with Lana Turner), and Tarzan and the Mermaids, the final Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan picture. She was also the wife of swashbuckling star Tyrone Power and mother to two of his children. In honor of Christian and the seductive actresses who followed her, we decided to take a look at what became of some of our favorite Bond girls; check ’em out after the jump.
Andress is considered by many to be the quintessential “Bond girl,” for both her seductive performance and her unforgettable entrance, rising from the Caribbean Sea in a white bikini, memorably recreated by Halle Berry in Die Another Day. (Andress’s bikini became such an iconic piece of film history that it sold at auction in 2001 for a healthy £35,000). The Swiss actress also appeared in the 1966 film version of Casino Royale, a giant mess of a send-up that was unconnected to the official series. Her other film appearances included Clash of the Titans, Fun in Acapulco (opposite Elvis Presley), 4 for Texas (with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin), and The Blue Max. Her personal life was colorful as well — she was married to John Derek for nine years (Derek was notorious for marrying a series of improbably beautiful women and then replacing them with younger versions; his “next model” was Linda Evans, then Bo Derek), reportedly dated Marlon Brando and James Dean, and had a son with her Clash co-star Harry Hamlin. Andress is currently 75 years old.
Daniela Bianchi (“Tatiana Romanova” in From Russia With Love )
Italian actress Bianchi was best-known as first runner-up in the 1960 Miss Universe contest when she was cast as Romanova, a Soviet Army Intelligence agent who ends up saving Bond’s life in the climax of his 1963 adventure From Russia with Love. She only acted for seven more years before retiring to marry a shipping magnate, but there is one very interesting entry in her later filmography: Operation Double 007 (also known as Operation Kid Brother, Secret Agent 00, and OK Connery), an Italian spoof/knock-off of the Bond series fronted by Neil Connery — yep, Sean’s younger brother. In addition to Bianchi, producer Dario Sabatello and director Alberto De Martino hired several other participants in the Bond films: Bernard Lee (“M”), Lois Maxwell (“Moneypenny”), Adolfo Celi (“Emil Largo” in Thunderball), and Anthony Dawson (“Professor Dent” in Dr. No). The resultant film was not terribly good (it was memorably showcased on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000), but it is an interesting footnote to the Bond series. Bianchi has not acted in over four decades; she is currently 69 years old.
Honor Blackman (“Pussy Galore” in Goldfinger)
British-born Blackman was one of the most famous Bond girls, if for no other reason than her character’s name, which may be the dirtiest of the series (at the very least, the dirtiest until “Holly Goodhead”). She was also the first to have some degree of fame before her Bond film, having played the role of Cathy Gale on The Avengers (though the show had not yet made its way to America when Goldfinger was released). She was later reteamed with Sean Connery for the 1968 British Western Shalako; her other film appearances include Jason and the Argonauts, The Virgin and the Gypsy, Something Big (with Dean Martin), The Cat and the Canary, and Bridget Jones’s Diary. She also appeared on Doctor Who in 1986 and is expected to return to the series later this year — still going strong at 85.
Claudine Auger (“Domino Derval” in Thunderball )
Former Miss France Claudine Auger so impressed Thunderball’s producers that the role of Dominique “Domino” Derval was rewritten (she was originally Italian, and named Dominetta Petacchi) to accommodate her. After Thunderball, Auger continued to act for thirty years, mostly working in French and Italian films. One of the most intriguing of the latter (for Bond fans, anyway) was The Black Belly of the Tarantula, a 1971 giallo film directed by Paolo Cavara, in which Auger co-starred with Barbara Bouchet (who played Moneypenny in the ’66 Casino Royale) and Barbara Bach (who, six years later, was the Bond girl in The Spy Who Loved Me). Auguer is now 70 years old.
Akiko Wakabayashi (“Aki” in You Only Live Twice )
Wakabayashi, who played the tough and sexy Aki in You Only Live Twice, is a bit of a mystery for Bond fans. Her pre-Bond filmography in her native Japan was fairly robust; she appeared in several of the famed Toho Studio monster movies, including King Kong Vs. Godzilla, Dagora the Space Monster, and Ghidora the Three-Headed Monster. She also appeared in Kokusai Himitsu Keisatsu: Kayaku No Taru, also known as International Secret Police: Key of Keys — but best known as the Japanese action movie that a young Woody Allen and some friends re-edited, re-wrote, and re-dubbed to create the uproarious 1966 film What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (You Only Live Twice co-star Mie Hama also appeared in the films). But after You Only Live Twice, Wakabayashi only appeared in one more movie (1968’s Diamonds of the Andes) and one episode of a television show before disappearing from film altogether.
Diana Rigg (“Teresa di Vicenzo” in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service )
Like Blackman, Rigg was an Avengers alum already famous in Britain when she was cast as Countess di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — the first Connery-less Bond film, and the single outing of George Lazenby in the role. She was also the only on-screen wife of the character, though that marriage is tragically short-lived. Rigg had one of the most active and distinguished post-Bond acting careers in the entire series, appearing on stage, television, and in films; her most notable works include The Assassination, Theatre of Blood, Evil Under the Sun, and A Little Night Music. She also hosted PBS’s Mystery! for four years. But to your author’s generation, she will forever be the elegant “Lady Holiday” in The Great Muppet Caper. Still quite active at 73, Rigg made a memorable appearance on the Daniel Radcliffe episode of Ricky Gervais’s Extras; her last film appearance was in the 2006 Naomi Watts/Edward Norton vehicle The Painted Veil.
Jill St. John (“Tiffany Case” in Diamonds are Forever )
Child-actress-turned-‘60s-sexpot St. John appeared in several pictures (including Come Blow Your Horn and the Jerry Lewis vehicle Who’s Minding the Store) before her turn as a Bond girl in Diamonds are Forever, Connery’s first return to the Bond series. In the ’70s and ’80s, she became a ubiquitous guest star presence on television, appearing on The Love Boat, Magnum P.I., Vega$, and many others, as well as the pilot episode of Hart to Hart. She’s been married since 1990 to that show’s star, Robert Wagner; one of her last television appearances was as his wife on the “Yadda Yadda” episode of Seinfeld. St. John, now 70, retired from acting in 2002.
Britt Ekland (“Mary Goodnight” in The Man with the Golden Gun )
Swedish knockout Ekland was already a star when she appeared opposite Roger Moore in his second outing, The Spy Who Loved Me; her earlier films included Get Carter, The Night They Raided Minsky’s, Machine Gun McCain, The Wicker Man, and After the Fox, which co-starred her husband Peter Sellers. Ekland was as well-known for her high-profile romances as for her film work; after divorcing Sellers, she had a son with rock producer Lou Adler, dated Rod Stewart (she provided the “whispers” in his song “Tonight’s the Night”) and Phil Lewis, and ultimately married Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom. Ekland, now 68, hasn’t been in a film since 1990, but she got the next best thing: Charlize Theron played her in the 2004 HBO biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
Barbara Bach (“Anya Amasova” in The Spy Who Loved Me )
Queens-born model-turned-actress Bach had mostly appeared in Italian films (including the aforementioned Black Belly of the Tarantula) before her big break in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. That role led to more film work, including Force 10 from Navarone, Up the Academy, and the spoof Caveman. On the set of the latter, she began dating her leading man, Ringo Starr; the pair married in 1981. She appeared in a few more films (including alongside Ringo in Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street) before retiring from the screen in 1986; now 63, her and Ringo remain happily married.
Lois Chiles (“Dr. Holly Goodhead” in Moonraker )
Before Moonraker, Texas-born Chiles had appeared as Robert Redford’s college sweetheart in The Way We Were, as Jordan Baker in the 1974 The Great Gatsby, and as murder victims in Death on the Nile and Coma. However, just before Moonraker’s release, Chiles lost her brother to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; she took a three-year break from acting before returning — this time to the small-screen — for a season on Dallas. She made a few memorable film appearances in the 1980s and 1990s (most notably as poor Jennifer Mack, who seduced William Hurt in Broadcast News before being unceremoniously shuffled off to Wota Hamlet, Alaska); she also continued to work on television, most recently in the Quentin Tarantino-directed “Grave Danger” episode of CSI.
Carole Bouquet (“Melina Havelock” in For Your Eyes Only )
French model/actress Bouquet appeared in several films of note both before (That Obscure Object of Desire) and after (Too Beautiful for You) her Bond girl turn in the lesser 1981 Roger Moore effort For Your Eyes Only — a film that is mostly known for an oddball story that has unfortunately attached itself to her. As per Snopes, For Your Eyes Only is, in fact, the film with the Bond girl who used to be a man, baby — but it’s not Bouquet. It is Caroline Cossey, formerly Barry Cossey, who underwent a sex change from 1972 to 1974 and became a fashion model known as “Tula.” She wasn’t an actual “Bond girl” in the traditional sense; her appearance in For Your Eyes Only is a brief one, merely one of several “girls at pool.” It still made a juicy story for the British tabloids, who “outed” Cossey shortly after the film’s release; in the years since, as is often the case with rumors like this, the story has grown to the urban legend of a leading lady who used to be a leading man, much to Roger Moore’s chagrin. Meanwhile Bouquet, onetime fiancé of Gérard Depardieu, is still quite active in French television and film; her latest picture, Impardonnables, played at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.