One of the staples of the James Bond franchise is the “Bond Girl.” This was a featured female who typically played the associate, unfortunate victim, or even villainess intent on killing 007. Since they spent much of their onscreen time parading around practically naked, except a bikini or in a close-up with Mr. Bond, having goddess-like facial features and a smokin’ body were mandatory occupational requirements.
Surprisingly, the inspiration for the Bond Girl stemmed from a real person. The creator of the Bond novels, Ian Fleming, was a notorious womanizer who carried on various affairs throughout his lifetime. In 1935, he met a 21-year-old, upper class Brit named Muriel Wright at an Austrian ski resort. She had all of the attributes of the typical Bond Girl: very attractive, physically stunning, sophisticated, and charming. They began a love affair that would last until Wright’s untimely death in 1944, during a German air raid. Fleming had to identify Muriel’s body and was both devastated and guilt-ridden over his rakish treatment of his dead lover. At the time a friend commented, “The trouble with Ian is that you have to get yourself killed before he feels anything.”
So it is probably not a coincidence that the Bond Girl is usually young, remarkably beautiful, and frequently the victim of a tragic death at a young age, their demise briefly impacting a normally indifferent James Bond, if only momentarily. But most of the Bond Girls didn’t die after appearing onscreen. They lived on, faced the aging process and its impact on their careers, and with grace (and frequently some surgical help), tried to uphold an impossible standard. Here is how it all turned out for 15 former Bond Girls.
15. Ursula Andress aka Honey Ryder
Ursula Andress aka Honey Ryder in Dr. No underlined the ridiculous absurdity of the plot lines in the Bond franchise. For some inexplicable reason, a Viking goddess is traipsing around a Caribbean island alone, picking up shells, when she runs into James Bond. Coincidentally, Dr. No’s factory of doom is a mere five iron around the corner. It made absolutely no sense at all, but you didn’t care. Of her role in Dr. No, Andress commented famously, “That bikini made me into a success.” Career breakthroughs aside, Hollywood was already paying attention, with Ursula having been involved with James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Elvis Presley. She would eventually marry or shack up with John Derek, JP Belmondo, Harry Hamlin, and some Italian actor you’ve never heard of.
Dr. No was a pretty good start but more often than not, Ursula wound up in vehicles like Tigers in Lipstick and The Sensuous Nurse. This recent photo shows her still trying to rock the décolletage and swept back hair look that comes off more like the Cowardly Lion. Before you snicker, remember that on March 19, Ursula will be 81 years old and Honey Ryder will have taken place 55 years ago. Also, anyone who slept with Elvis, gave birth when she was 44, and packed more into a week than most people experience in a lifetime has no reason to apologize.
14. Honor Blackman aka Pussy Galore
Honor Blackman was pretty unusual for a Bond Girl in that she got to smack Sean Connery around and didn’t wind up getting karate chopped or gobbled up by piranhas. She was also unusual in that she was cast in 1964’s Goldfinger when she was 38 years old. Nowadays, she would be lucky to be cast at that age as somebody’s great grandmother. Already a hit in Britain from her role on The Avengers, Blackman also starred for many years on the British stage.
Some people are just too good looking. Here’s a recent photo of Honor, currently 91. You really can’t find a bad picture of her, even now. Yes, she’s no longer a sexpot, but check back with us if you’re even upright at that age. She’s also still sharp enough to comment intelligently on Margaret Thatcher, turn down an MBE for political reasons, and criticize the tax status of Sean Connery. Married and divorced twice, she famously stated, “I’m so selfish. I do exactly what I want when I want. So no, there’s no man. Would I like there to be? No. I love men, love being with them. But at my age there aren’t a lot of them about.”
13. Lana Wood aka Plenty O’Toole
Born Svetlana Gurdin, Lana Wood never really escaped the shadow of her much more famous sister, Natalie, who died tragically. She lasted five minutes in Diamonds Are Forever before being thrown out of a window and had a cameo as a child actor in the John Wayne epic The Searchers. It was mostly sporadic TV guest shots that dried up in the seventies and a tell all-cash-in book right after her sister drowned. That was pretty much the career.
Physically, 70 years old, she’s holding it together okay. But the personal life, that’s another story. A real hot mess. There’s been talk of a Bond Girl curse and Lana probably got it started. She’s not really even sure how many times she’s gotten married because she can’t remember if the marriages ended in annulment or divorce. Her father died only a year before the death of Natalie Wood. Her brother-in-law Robert Wagner very publicly severed any ties between himself, his two daughters, and Lana over the ongoing acrimony over Wagner’s role in the death of her sister. She hasn’t had a meaningful conversation with him in 35 years.
12. Maud Adams aka Octopussy
Imagine this conversation with your parents. “Hi, Mom and Dad, I just got this great new role in a James Bond movie!” “Oh, really, that’s great, who are going to play?” “Uh, Octopussy!” Long silence. That was the fate of Maud Adams, born Maud Wikstrom in Lulea, Sweden. She had already played the mistress of villain Francisco Scaramanga in the 1975 The Man With the Golden Gun, eight years earlier. One of the highest paid models in the world, Maud really had it going on in the late seventies, with a couple of dramatic roles and her Bond stuff. The now forgotten and dreadful 1981 Tattoo, where she gets kidnapped and repeatedly and unhappily tattooed by a psychotic (surprise!) Bruce Dern pretty much put a halt to all that. Octopussy was a last hurrah of sorts, by 1985, she would be reduced to an extra role in A View To A Kill.
You can find some more glamorous recent shots of Maud, and this one is several years old, but if you are walking down the street and run into the ex-Octopussy, this is pretty much what she’d look like. Not bad for over 70. She seems like a pretty sensible type, married to an ex-judge and living the good life somewhere in West LA. She did well for herself for someone who started out in a small town in Swedish Lapland.
11. Barbara Bach aka Anya Amasova
Modeling at age 18 for Eileen Ford, Barbara Bach was married to an Italian businessman by age 19 (it didn’t last) and was acting in small roles in Italian films when she was cast in 1977 as the Russian spy and romantic lead in The Spy Who Loved Me. Having brilliantly survived attempted decapitation via the jaws of Richard Kiel in the Bond movie, she set her lofty sights on the high profile attempt to replace Kate Jackson on Charlie’s Angels, only to lose out to the stupefyingly untalented Shelley Hack. Of this incident she once revealed to Johnny Carson that the producers didn’t think she could be “American” enough despite the fact that she was born Barbara Goldbach in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Barbara’s film career meandered along until 1981 when she was cast in something called Caveman, with Ringo Starr, Shelley Long, and Dennis Quaid. This film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 24%. The only remaining copies are currently being used to psychologically torture inmates at Guantanamo.
The good news was that Barbara and Ringo got married three weeks after the film was released. She stopped acting in the mid-eighties, content with charity work involving substance abuse recovery and other social welfare issues. Now 68, she recently has started accompanying Ringo on his All-Star band tours and on April 27, the couple will celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary.
10. Shirley Eaton aka Jill Masterson
Admit it, when you were nine years old and you first saw how they rubbed out Shirley Eaton’s character Jill Masterson, in Goldfinger, that was the coolest thing you’d ever seen. “Skin suffocation” was how Goldfinger murdered her and you immediately believed and began repeating the rumor that Shirley died during filming. A talented vocalist, Shirley Eaton began appearing in films and cabaret acts at a very young age in the early fifties. Although she appeared with Roger Moore on several episodes of The Saint and had numerous film and television appearances, clearly her most memorable appearance and the pinnacle of her career was her metallic demise in Goldfinger.
Eaton filmed with Sean Connery for one week during Goldfinger. Happily married, with two young children, she decided to retire from show business shortly after her 007 appearance. Of this decision she said: “I’d had my second child, who was born prematurely, and when it comes to choosing between your career and your family, I believe your family comes first.” She moved with her husband Colin to the south of France, living near Roger Moore, so it was probably a nice neighborhood. The only bump in what seems an idyllic life was the death of Colin in 1994. Shirley moved back to London, wrote a memoir in 1999, and at age 80, keeps busy as an artist and writer.
9. Halle Berry aka Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson
In a pretty blatant attempt to recreate the Ursula Andress look, somebody came up with the idea of Halle Berry as Jinx Johnson, NSA agent. Unlike the softer, helpless Honey, Jinx gets heavily into the punching, sword play, and mindless violence, which makes sense in a post-feminist world. She even helps Pierce Brosnan as a veritable equal at times. Unfortunately, the characters are typical of the later Bond, non-Ian Fleming 007 films. Utterly forgettable characters and villains and a plot so mindless that even the people who wrote the film would be hard pressed to remember it a month later. No worries, it still grossed more than any other Bond film up to that time.
Halle Berry is now 50 years old. This is a recent, photograph of Halle from an event. With regard to how she is weathering the aging process, her current physical fitness, and body fat percentage, do you have any further questions?
8. Grace Jones aka May Day
It was inevitable that something as over the top as the Bond franchise would eventually collide with Grace Jones. Born in Jamaica, she scrapped her way to the top of the modeling world with bizarre fashion looks heightened by a unique appearance that was something the world had never seen before. After a Conan The Barbarian appearance, she made the logical step to Bond Girl in the 1985 A View To A Kill, not surprisingly as a villainess intent on killing 007, before a plot twist unites her with Bond and her inevitable death by bombing. Her boyfriend at the time, Dolph Lundgren, appeared in a cameo in the film.
Now 68, Grace Jones has frequently stated that she would not even conceive of being photographed without makeup. She still performs music and is more of a thing in Europe than in the States. Like much of her interview conversation, her domestic situation is deliberately provocative to the point of being vague. She has made a career of being able to keep you off balance and wondering what or who she is.
7. Diana Rigg aka Countess Tracy di Vicenzo
Diana Rigg was already a major British star in The Avengers, when she followed in the footsteps of Honor Blackman to appear as James Bond’s love interest in the 1969 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Her co-star was George Lazenby, as Sean Connery had had enough of the Bond series. The film, Rigg and Lazenby were reasonable enough for Lazenby, a former model with zero acting experience, to be offered a seven picture deal which he inexplicably turned down. Within ten years, he was placing ads in Variety, pleading for acting gigs of any kind. Diana Rigg never suffered from such stupidity, continuing to star on television and in film, without skipping a beat.
Now 78, Diana Rigg, like several contemporaries, has shunned plastic surgery and let time have at her. Perhaps this decision is driven by a lack of necessity, as she remains very much in demand, most notably appearing on Game of Thrones. Although married and divorced twice, there is no Bond Girl curse evident here, as she lives out her life as Dame Diana Rigg, DBE.
6. Lois Chiles aka Holly Goodhead
You gotta wonder if Ian Fleming had one too many martinis when he came up with this character name. At any rate, Lois Chiles got the role in Moonraker, another Roger Moore vehicle from 1979. Lois, a ridiculously good looking model, looked like she was about to become the next big thing. Decent roles in The Way We Were and The Great Gatsby and a high profile relationship with Eagles’ Don Henley put her on the launching pad. But then, whether it was the death of a sibling or a desire to take her profession more seriously, she sat out for a critical three year period. When she returned with a splash in 1982, by appearing on Dallas as the love interest of JR Ewing, momentum was lost.
It never did really happen for Lois, now 69. By the time she was done with Dallas, she was close to forty and the roles stopped coming. That always happens. She also never married during this time period, dumping Don and involving herself with various people including CBS oligarch William Paley, when he was in his eighties. She finally cut the cord with Hollywood, returning to her native Texas and teaching at the University of Houston. Don’t feel too sorry for her, in 2005, she married a Wall Street big hitter and is probably looking out on Central Park through her penthouse apartment window as we speak.
5. Britt Ekland aka Mary Goodnight
When she was cast in 1974’s The Man with The Golden Gun, Britt Ekland had already achieved international fame through her brief marriage to Peter Sellers, which occurred two weeks after they met in 1964. She gave birth to a daughter less than a year later and spent much of the rest of the sixties and early seventies in bad Peter Sellers movies and an occasionally interesting picture like Get Carter! or The Wicker Man. With her appearance as a Bond Girl and a high profile relationship with Rod Stewart, she reached the pinnacle of the tabloid mountaintop.
Predictably, Britt got tired of Rod Stewart’s philandering ways and moved on. But she seems to have been unable to shake the interest in musicians, no matter how far down the pecking order. In 1984, she married Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom, (not his real name) twenty years younger and gave birth to his child four years later at age 46. Now 74, she hasn’t really done a whole lot professionally since the eighties. Recently she has made the rounds of such fare as I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here, and proclaimed a complete lack of interest in men, an attitude that she has maintained for twenty years.
4. Mie Hama aka Kissy Suzuki
When she was cast as Kissy Suzuki in the 1967 You Only Live Twice Japanese actress Mie Hama had already appeared in over forty Japanese films, including the epic King Kong vs. Godzilla. She is involved in another laughably preposterous Bond moment in which Sean Connery is made up to look like her Asian husband, make-up that, in that scene, is blatantly ineffective.
In 1973, Mie Hama got out of acting and started a career as a talk show hostess, an endeavor that was successful well into the eighties. She remains active in environmental issues and has her own website, although you’ll have to be fluent in Japanese to be able to do anything with it. She is also married and raised a family of three children.
3. Tanya Roberts aka Stacey Sutton
When she was cast as Bond Girl Stacey Sutton in the 1985 A View To Kill, Tanya Roberts’ career was in a strange kind of purgatory. She bounced around some pilots in the late seventies until her big break came being cast on Charlie’s Angels, a casting that effectively obliterated whatever ratings the show had retained. Next it was on to The Beastmaster, hyped by a pictorial in Playboy and the subsequent disaster, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, a role which earned her a Worst Actress Razzie nomination in 1984. Tanya certainly had a high profile career, but in some really awful stuff. Unfortunately, A View To Kill earned her another Razzie nomination and general acceptance that she is the worst Bond girl in the history of the franchise.
Tanya recently lamented that she regretted taking the Bond role. “I sort of felt like every girl who’d ever been a Bond Girl had seen their career go nowhere, so I was a little cautious. They sort of think you’re some dumb, glamorous broad, so it’s difficult, and I think that is the reason most Bond Girls don’t go on to have careers after they have done the movie because people just don’t take them seriously and I guess they shouldn’t because it’s so tongue-in-cheek, you know what I mean?” Now 61, it seems as if Tanya is resigned to the reality that Return of the Beastmaster is not going to happen.
2. Claudine Auger aka Dominique “Domino” Derval
Claudine Auger started acting in her first husband’s films. She was 17, he was 43. She supposedly got the part in Thunderball as Domino when she was on holiday in the Bahamas and it was suggested by one of the film’s producers that she audition. Thunderball was wildly successful but got her nowhere in the States. She got some roles in some Italian and French films but her role as Bond Girl was her most high profile venture.
Claudine is now 75 and a long way from the beaches of Nassau. She retired from show business in the eighties and married British businessman Peter Brant, not to be confused with the spouse of Stephanie Seymour. Claudine’s Brant died in 2009.
1. Daniela Bianchi aka Tatiana Romanova
Daniela Bianchi was a Miss Universe runner-up with some sporadic European film work when she was cast in the 1963 From Russia with Love. Her only American industry work occurred on a few episodes of Dr. Kildare. By the end of the sixties, it was basically parodies of the Bond series and not much else.
Now 74, Daniela Bianchi threw in the towel on her acting career after marrying Alberto Camelli, who is described in all accounts as a “shipping magnate from Genoa, Italy.” These two must be a pretty private couple because other than that you can’t really find out a thing about what they are up to and how Alberto’s shipping business is going. Judging from this photo, however, it looks like Daniela has been take care of pretty well over the years.