Eunice Gayson, the first ever Bond Girl, dead at 90

Gayson had previously revealed in an interview how she helped to calm a nervous Connery. After taking him out for a drink, he came back on sets to deliver that legendary punchline.

                            Eunice Gayson, the first ever Bond Girl, dead at 90
Eunice Gayson (Getty Images)

Eunice Gayson, the first ever Bond girl who had helped give birth to one of the most iconic catchphrases associated with the movie series, has died at the age of 90. Despite her versatile career in television, film, and theatre, Gayson will be best remembered as the first Bond girl, in 'Dr. No' and 'From Russia With Love'. 

The catchphrase "Bond, James Bond" was first coined in 1962 film 'Dr. No' during the card scene. A shimmering Sylvia Trench replies to James Bond who admits that he admires her courage. "I admire your courage, Ms...", to which she replies, "Trench, Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mr...?" and the hence, comes the catchphrase, "Bond, James Bond." 

Apart from the Bond movies, Gayson worked through the 50s and 60s in several acclaimed movies such as 'The Revenge of Frankenstein', 'Zarak', 'Dance, Little Lady', and 'Miss Robin Hood'. The news of her death brought in comments on her Twitter page from Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli who 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.”

This Bond girl was born in Purley, Surrey, on March 17, 1928 to John Sargaison, a civil servant, and his wife Maria (nee Gammon). A gifted soprano, Eunice trained as an opera singer and in 1946, aged 18, was playing Princess Luv-Lee in Aladdin (Grand theatre, Derby). By the end of the decade, she was a tv regular – in music shows, revues and television pantomimes. In 1954 she was selected to be a panelist on Guess My Story which became quite popular over the course of the next year. 

Gayson's break in film came in 1948 with 'My Brother Jonathan'. Her other works followed, where she was repeatedly cast for the leading female role, such as in 'Melody in the Dark', Basil Dearden's 'Out of the Clouds'. She had also played the role of the Baroness in the original London production at the Palace Theatre in 1962, of 'The Sound of Music', where she was the longest-running cast members, as the play saw more than 2000 performances.

Although Gayson had carried out most of her dialogues on set, they were dubbed for the film by voiceover artist Nikki van der Zyl, who had also lent her voice to several Bond girls through the 60s and 70s. Gayson had also appeared in several classic TV series such as 'The Saint' and 'The Avengers'. 

Her personal life had initially gathered a lot of interest, reports The Guardian. Her 1953 marriage to the writer Leigh Vance was seen by three million American viewers when it was part of the television show Bride and Groom. The marriage was dissolved six years later and in 1968 she married the actor Brian Jackson. That marriage also ended in divorce but produced a daughter, Kate, who survives her. Kate appeared in the casino scene in the Pierce Brosnan Bond film GoldenEye (1995).

While Sylvia Trench never appeared in Ian Fleming's novels, her presence in the Bond films have actually helped define the Bond girl as the driving force for the protagonist. In 2012, Gayson recalled that she was "horror-struck" when she saw the set all brown and gold and even her dress was of the same color. Despite not having the means to have a proper costume fit at that time, she played the scene with a red dress held together by clothes pegs. She also revealed how she helped Sean Connery overcome his nervous breakdown on the set, while shooting for the casino scene, reports the BBC. "He had to say Bond, James Bond, but he came out with other permutations like Sean Bond, James Connery. 'Cut! Cut! Cut!'" As instructed by Terence Young she had taken Connery out for a drink," so I took him off for a drink or two and he came back on set and said, 'Bond, James Bond'. It was so wonderful. The day took off from that moment - he was so relaxed."

The news of her death was confirmed by her official Twitter page. “We are very sad to learn that our dear Eunice passed away on June 8th. An amazing lady who left a lasting impression on everyone she met,” a tweet read. “She will be very much missed.”