Bond Girl: From Bermuda, With Star Quality

April 30, 2013

Three years before Sean Connery’s James Bond was smitten by her, British model Tania Mallet was stopping traffic in Bermuda — literally — during a “Vogue” photo shoot.

Ms Mallet — who played Tilly Masterson in “Goldfinger”, a sexually ambiguous character who became the first Bond Girl to rebuff secret agent 007′s supposedly irresistible charms — was photographed in Bermuda by celebrated French lensman Eugene Vernier for a 1961 fashion lay-out.

Monsieur Vernier shot Ms Mallet — his favourite model — at various scenic spots around the island but a playful photograph he took of her standing on the wall leading into Flatts Village along with a young Bermudian admirer became instantly iconic and was reproduced in newspapers around the world.

The photograph’s world-wide popularity helped to seal Ms Mallet’s standing as one of  the top new faces of the early ’60s.

VernierMallet

Born of a millionaire father and a Russian mother in 1941, Tania Mallet received her schooling in both France and England.

She joined the Lucy Clayton school of modelling in London and by the early 1960s had become one of Britain’s most famous models, her photographs appearing in such publications as “Vogue” and “Harpers,” on several occasions.

According to Ms Mallet, she got the role of Tilly Masterson in “Goldfinger” when someone sent a photo of her in a bikini to Bond producer Cubby Broccoli.

The character — out to avenge the death of her sister, Jill [Shirley Eaton], murdered by Auric Goldfinger in the film’s opening sequence — was herself killed off when the villainous title character’s henchman Oddjob [Harold Sakata] hurled his steel rimmed hat at her.

Despite the film’s phenomenal success, Ms Mallet did not enjoy acting or the filmmaking process and “Goldfinger” would be her only major big screen appearance.

Ms Mallet currently lives in England with her second husband. She still attends autograph signings at James Bond fan events.

Tania Mallet with Sean Connery in “Goldfinger” [1964]

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