Friday 23 August 2019

Bond's barely-there girls

Remember Trina Parks or Tula? We investigate what happened to the actresses who had bit-parts in 007 films

Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger
Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger
Bambi in Diamonds are Forever
Bambi and Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever
Tula, former Bond Girl
Madonna in Die Another Day
Cecilie Thomsen
Teri Hatcher as a Bond girl
Caterina Murin
Gemma Arterton Bond Girl
Monica Bellucci

David Thomas

The casting of 51-year-old Monica Bellucci as the oldest ever Bond girl, in Spectre, caused a media sensation. Finally, 007 was growing up. At last, middle-aged women were being seen as sexy, too.

But when the film was released last week, cinema-goers were surprised to find that Bellucci's part lasts only a few minutes, before she is discarded for 30-year-old Lea Seydoux.

Bellucci, it seems, belongs to a very specific group in the 007 canon: the Barely There Bond Girl. These aren't the ones he drags around amid explosions, bullets and car chases, only to drive, float or orbit off into the sunset as the credits roll. No, these girls make fleeting appearances, yet have often been some of the most memorable characters in the franchise.

So what became of the actresses who played the Barely-There Bond Girls?

1. The actress: Shirley Eaton

Her character: Jill Masterson in Goldfinger (1964)

Her Bond: Sean Connery Having appeared in three Carry On films, Shirley Eaton became an iconic Bond girl, not for the way her character lived, but how she died.

Bond meets Jill Masterson when she is helping her boss, Auric Goldfinger, cheat at cards. Naturally, she switches her allegiance to Bond. But he wakes to find that Goldfinger has taken his revenge. Jill is lying dead, painted in gold on the bed beside him.

That image put Eaton, now 78, on the cover of Life magazine. She retired from acting to raise her sons. She called her autobiography Golden Girl, and her website offers signed snaps of her. But it does not sell any tapes of her lines: they were dubbed on afterwards.

2. The actresses: Lola Larson and Trina Parks

Their characters: Bambi and Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Their Bond: Sean Connery Bambi and Thumper are the semi-naked bodyguards barring Bond's way to their boss, the villain Willard Whyte.

After Thumper knees Bond in the crotch, he gets his revenge, by almost drowning the girls in Whyte's pool.

For Lola "Bambi" Larson, this marked her only screen appearance of any note.

Trina Parks has been more successful, working as an actress and singer, including a season in the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, an annual revue whose performers were all 55 or over.

3. The actress: Tula

Her character: Caroline Cossey, aka Girl by Pool in For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Her Bond: Roger Moore

Tula merely sunned herself beside a pool. But she has one significant claim to fame: she was the only transgender Bond girl. After the film's London premiere, the News of the World ran a story headlined "James Bond Girl Was a Boy". Tula, now 61, made the best of it with an autobiography, a Playboy spread and appearances in pop videos, before settling down to married life in Atlanta, Georgia.

4. The actress: Teri Hatcher

Her character: Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Her Bond: Pierce Brosnan Paris is a former lover of Bond's, who makes the fatal mistake of falling back in love with 007. Sadly, her husband, media magnate villain Elliot Carver, finds out about their encounter, and the next thing Bond knows, she's dead.

Hatcher, 50, found fame years later, in 2004, when she appeared in Desperate Housewives, a huge global hit. So her Bond character died, but she most certainly thrived.

5. The actress: Cecilie Thomsen

Her character: Professor Inga Bergstrom in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Her Bond: Pierce Brosnan

Thomsen was 22 when she played a professor who has to teach Bond Danish, but ends up in bed with him instead. Cue innuendos as our man smirks: "I've always enjoyed studying a new tongue."

Now 41, Thomsen is notable for being a Danish actress who has not appeared in Borgen, The Killing or any other Scandi-crime series.

6. The actress: Madonna

Her character: Verity in Die Another Day (2002)

Her Bond: Pierce Brosnan

Verity is a fencing teacher at a London club who asks: "Do you handle your weapon well?", to which Bond replies: "I've been known to keep my tip up."

She then invites him to tie up the laces of her fencing outfit, which somehow involves a black corset.

Madonna, 57, was well known before her appearance in the film, for which she also wrote and performed a desperately mediocre theme song - and has remained so ever since.

7. The actress: Caterina Murino

Her character: Solange in Casino Royale (2006)

Her Bond: Daniel Craig

The first Bond girl to be seduced by Craig's rebooted Bond, Solange is riding along a beach in her bikini when she spots Bond emerge from the water in blue trunks that cause global media meltdown. She beds him, but there's a catch: she is married. Soon, her corpse is trussed up in a hammock. Bond does not waste time mourning.

Murino, 38, appeared as a sexy teacher in a St Trinian's remake, before settling into a steady career in French and Italian TV series and films.

8. The actress: Gemma Arterton

Her character: Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace (2008)

Her Bond: Daniel Craig

Strawberry Fields is an MI6 agent in Bolivia, ordered to send Bond back to London. "I think she has handcuffs," says Bond's pal Mathis. "I hope so," he replies.

Strawberry finds Bond irresistible - but the affair ends as she is killed and left on a bed, covered in oil (a knowing homage to Shirley Eaton's demise in Goldfinger).

Arterton also played a St Trinian's schoolgirl, and is now thriving in blockbusters such as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

9. The actress: Monica Bellucci

Her character: Lucia Sciarra in Spectre (2015)

Her Bond: Daniel Craig

Bond killed Lucia's husband, as he informs her when they meet at the funeral. Hours later, they're in bed. Lucia does not die, if only because Bond kills the men sent to assassinate her. The effect of her cameo on Bellucci's career is still uncertain. She is currently filming On the Milky Road.

© The Sunday Telegraph

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