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.