Is it really possible that 40 years have passed since the first “Bond girl” graced a cinema screen? Forty years since Ursula Andress, playing Honey Rider, walked out of the Caribbean in that tiny white bikini and into the life of Sean Connery’s James Bond in Dr. No?
Though she couldn’t have known it at the time, Andress was at the forefront of a piece of pop culture. Bond girls—even the age of political correctness couldn’t change the endearing term to “Bond women”—were to become a more important component of the 007 films than Bond’s fancy cars or his lethal Walther PPK.
Now the 20th Bond film, Die Another Day, is hitting theaters, and last year’s Best Actress Oscar-winner Halle Berry is in the role of Jinx, the newest in the line of Bond girls. And with her appearance come some questions. What happens to an actress who takes on one of these coveted roles? Is it a career builder or a career ender? Berry had already begun shooting the film when she won the Oscar. Did she make the right choice?
Only time will tell. Here’s a look at what happened to some of the women who played the beauties that either fell for or went up against Bond, James Bond.
Ursula Andress (Honey Rider in Dr. No, 1962) Best known for: Pulling a knife on Bond, but being subdued. Before Bond: A couple of small Italian films and sundry credits. After Bond: More Italian films and lots of “B” American films, including the 1963 Elvis Presley vehicle Fun in Acapulco; most recently, Cremaster 5 in 1997.
Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, 1964) Best known for: Her character’s name (and Sean Connery’s reply to her matter-of-fact introduction: “I must be dreaming.”) Before Bond: Two dozen small films; played Cathy Gale, the original female lead on “The Avengers.” After Bond: Two dozen more small films, lots of TV movies; most recently, To Walk with Lions in 1999.
Diana Rigg (Tracy Draco in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969) Best known for: Marrying Bond, then being murdered on their honeymoon. Before Bond: Played Emma Peel on “The Avengers.” After Bond: Lots of film and theater work, and her own TV series, “Diana”; longtime host of “Mystery!” on PBS.
Jill St. John (Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever, 1971) Best known for: Transformation from smuggler to Bond ally. Before Bond: Light comedies and action films. After Bond: Lots of TV films and mini-series; newest film is the upcoming The Trip.
Jane Seymour (Solitaire in Live And Let Die, 1973) Best known for: Losing virginity to Bond. Before Bond: A couple of films and British TV series. After Bond: Practically every other mini-series ever made; her own TV series, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”
Barbara Bach (Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977) Best known for: Being a Soviet spy, on equal footing with Bond. Before Bond: A series of Italian films. After Bond: Married Ringo Starr, made a handful of direct-to-video movies.
Lynn-Holly Johnson (Bibi Dahl in For Your Eyes Only, 1981) Best known for: Being the only woman Bond refused to sleep with (he offers to buy her an ice cream instead). Before Bond: Professional ice skater, starred in Ice Castles. After Bond: A few “B” movies, most recently The Criminal Mind in 1996.
Maud Adams (Octopussy in Octopussy, 1983) Best known for: Sleeping with Bond in a boat rowed by a troupe of circus girls. Before Bond: Starred in U-Turn. After Bond: Lots of direct-to-video movies, most recently Ringer in 1996. Still makes the occasional talk show appearance on Swedish television.
Kim Basinger (Domino Petachi in Never Say Never Again, 1983) Best known for: Killing the villain Largo with a spear gun. Before Bond: Lots of TV movies. After Bond: Leads and co-starring roles in two dozen major films; won Best Supporting Actress Oscar for L.A. Confidential; currently plays Eminem’s drunk mom in 8 Mile.
Tanya Roberts (Stacey Sutton in A View to a Kill, 1985) Best known for: Dangling from the Golden Gate Bridge, awaiting rescue. Before Bond: Lots of “B” movies and a stint on “Charlie’s Angels.” After Bond: More “B” movies and a regular role on “That '70s Show.”
Famke Janssen (Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye, 1995) Best known for: Instigating a sports car race with Bond down a twisting mountain road. Before Bond: A modeling career and a lead part in the film Lord of Illusions. After Bond: Lots of major film roles, including X-Men and the current I Spy.
Teri Hatcher (Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997) Best known for: Slapping Bond in the face in their first scene. Before Bond: A few small movies; TV series including “The Love Boat” and “Lois & Clark.” After Bond: Lots of TV movies, a running series of Radio Shack ads with Howie Long.
Denise Richards (Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough, 1999) Best known for: Those tight little black hot pants. Before Bond: Starred in flops such as Wild Things and Starship Troopers. After Bond: Starred in flops such as Valentine; has a few films in the can.
Halle Berry (Jinx in Die Another Day, 2002) Best known for: Walking out of the ocean in a tiny coral bikini (an homage to Dr. No). Before Bond: A short stint on “Knots Landing,” a couple of Spike Lee films, X-Men; bared her breasts in Swordfish (for a $500,000 salary bump); won the Oscar for Monster’s Ball. After Bond: The upcoming X-Men 2.