Eunice Gayson, the first Bond girl, has died aged 90

Eunice Gayson became the first Bond girl, appearing in 1962's Dr No  - Film Stills
Eunice Gayson became the first Bond girl, appearing in 1962's Dr No - Film Stills

"Bond, James Bond." Those immortal words were first spoken by Sean Connery's secret agent to Eunice Gayson, who has died at the age of 90, in the first 007 film Dr No. 

Gayson played Sylvia Trench in the 1962 film that would become part of one of the world's biggest film franchises. Bond's suave self-introduction was, in fact, him mimicking Trench, who had just introduced herself as "Trench, Sylvia Trench" at the poker table. 

Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of the Bond series, said in a statement today: "We are so sad to learn that Eunice Gayson, our very first 'Bond girl', who played Sylvia Trench in Dr No and From Russia With Love, has passed away.

"Our sincere thoughts are with her family."

The introductory scene, which takes place at Le Cercle Club casino, was also the first scene shot in the film. In an interview in 2012 for the 50th anniversary of Dr No, Gayson revealed that the iconic red dress that she was wearing was a last-minute whip-together. Her original dress, she said, was the wrong colour for the set so a new one had to be made on the spot. In fact, it was "just a piece of fabric held together with clothes pegs".

Nerves also got the better of Connery, who struggled to say his line without fluffing it.

Eunice Gayson with Sean Connery in From Russia with Love - Credit: Rex
Eunice Gayson with Sean Connery in From Russia with Love Credit: Rex

"It came to take one, which was the first shot of the first day of the first film of the Bond series. I asked him who he was and he looked at me and I thought, ‘Oh no, is he going to dry?’ He said, ‘The name is James Conn...eh.. cut!’ Well, my goodness me, you can imagine the turmoil on the set," she said. "We had quite a few takes. I had never seen Sean as nervous."

The delays began to cause anxiety among the rest of the crew, so director Terence Young asked Gayson to help.

"I was seconded to take him into the restaurant to have a drink or two," she recalled. "And as he'd been on the wagon for several months prior... I was a bit worried how it would affect him. It did effect him but in a nice sort of way. He came back with the Bond image."

Culture stars who have died in 2018
Culture stars who have died in 2018

Gayson was first cast in the film as Miss Moneypenny, but as she had recently won a part in the West End production of The Sound of Music, she couldn't take the recurring role. So Lois Maxwell was cast instead.

Like most of the earlier actresses who appeared in the first two films, Gayson's voice was overdubbed by voice actress Nikki van der Zyl.  

Bond girls through the years
Bond girls through the years

Gayson's character Sylvia was also originally planned to be a recurring character, but the idea was later dropped by the director of Goldfinger, Guy Hamilton. She is, however, the only Bond girl to be in more than one 007 film, appearing also at the beginning of From Russia with Love.

Born in 1928, Gayson was raised in Surrey. Prior to her appearance in the Bond franchise, she regularly appeared in small roles on TV and in film, including Hammer Horror's 1958 movie The Revenge of Frankenstein. She later appeared in series such as The Saint and The Avengers. Her last acting appearance was in an episode of the Seventies secret agent series The Adventurer. 

She was married and divorced twice. She first married scriptwriter Leigh Vance in 1953 before they split four years later. She then married photographer Brian Jackson, with whom she has a daughter, Kate – who later appeared in the film GoldenEye. 

In October last year Gayson attended the memorial service of Roger Moore, who played the second incarnation of James Bond and starred in The Saint.

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