Eunice Gayson, who got worldwide fame by playing as the first Bond girl ever, has passed away at the age of 90. Gayson portrayed the character Sylvia Trench, girl friend of British secret service agent James Bond in the very first Bond movie ‘Dr. No’ released in 1962.
In the film, it was upon Gayson’s question, where Bond answered “Bond, James Bond”, which later became considered as one of the most iconic and celebrated dialogues of all time.
Born in Croydon, Surrey in 1928, Gayson started her carrier as singer and dancer. Before the Bond movie, she had acted in few other movies including ‘The Revenge of Frankenstein’ (1958).
In the movie ‘Dr. No’, it was first decided that Gayson would play the role of Miss Moneypenny, another legendary character of the franchise. However the character was later transferred to Louise Maxwell, thus Eunice Gayson got the opportunity to become the first Bond girl in history. She was accompanied on opposite side by Sean Connery.
In ‘Dr. No’, Silvia Trench met James Bond at the Le Cercle Club casino. Despite losing a bunch of rounds in cards, she was determined to continue. That attracts Bond, who was winning frequently. He told Trench, “I admire your courage, Miss …?
She answered, “Trench, Sylvia Trench.”
Then he told Bond in same tone, “I admire your luck, Mr. …?
And the reply came, “Bond, James Bond”, and the rest is history.
Later in an interview, Gayson told that while shooting this scene Sean Connery was pretty much nervous. After the take was cancelled for several times, Eunice Gayson took Connery for drinks. That worked and Sean Connery became calm and atlast the take was ok.
In the huge list of Bond girls created through half a century, Eunice Gayson was not only the first only the first one but also she is the only one to work in two Bond films as James Bond’s girlfriend.
After the huge success of ‘Dr. No’, the team decided to keep Gayson permanently as Bond Girl just as Connery was kept as permanent Bond. But Guy Hamilton, director of the next Bond film ‘Goldfinger’ (1963), scraped the plan. That made Gayson to be unable to return as Bond girl once again. However in the next one ‘From Russia With Love’ (1964), she appeared in a tiny role of Bond’s time passing girlfriend (not Bond girl) for few minutes.
The role played by Eunice Gayson in ‘Dr. No’ was unique from another angle too. In most of the Bond movies, James bond used to seduce his favorite girls. But in ‘Dr. No’, Sylvia Trench was seen trying to attract Bond toward her. Film researchers described it as a symbol of feminism uprising in western world throughout 60’s.
Despite her remarkable acting in the film, Eunice Gayson’s real voice was not heard in ‘Dr. No’. Like other Bond movies of that decade, voiceover artist Nikki Van Der Zyl’s voice was put on Gayson’s lip.
Eunice Gayson married scriptwriter and producer Leigh Vance in 1953. He was a founding officer of British Writers’ Guild. The marriage broke four years later. Gayson then tied knot with photographer Brian Jackson. Soon after this relation too fell apart, Eunice Gayson was arrested in a shoplifting incident.
Despite the grand success of ‘Dr. No’, Gayson was not frequent on silver screen later. She appeared in television series like ‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Saint’. The second one was accompanied by Roger Moore, Bond of the post Connery era. Gayson also worked in ‘The Goon Show’ with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan.
Eunice Gayson’s relation with Bond franchise was not bonded with just two films. She attended the world tour organized to celebrate 50 years Bond journey. As part of the tour, she visited multiple countries and interacted with her fans.
Eunice Gayson’s daughter Kate has appeared in the 1995 Bond film “Goldeneye” in a small role. The scene was of a casino… just like her mother.
Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have said: “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.”
Check out that scene where Bond girl met Bond for the first time in “Dr. No” (1962)