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US Magazines from the height of ‘Bondmania’

Following the release of Dr. No in the USA in 1963, the James Bond films went on to become more successful with the debut of each successive title in the long-running series. By late 1964 the James Bond films had become so ubiquitous, that the series made its debut on the cover of LIFE - an American magazine published weekly from 1883-1972. The wide-ranging general-interest magazine was known for the quality of its photography, and was one of the most popular publications in the nation, regularly reaching one-quarter of the population of the United States. At the height of ‘Bondmania’ in the mid-1960s both Thunderball (1965) and You Only Live Twice (1967) appeared on the covers, and were previewed in several other magazines and specialist publications when first released in the USA. The magazines pictured on this page were all published in the USA (unless otherwise stated), and although copies would also be available internationally, their covers and contents could be different.

LIFE May 24, 1963 & April 3, 1964

The first James Bond film Dr. No (1962) was previewed in the May 24, 1963 edition of LIFE, with Sean Connery then profiled in the April 3, 1964 edition to promote the US release of From Russia With Love (1963), accompanied by another two-page photo spread.

LIFE November 6, 1964

LIFE January 7, 1966

November 6, 1964 [ROLLOVER for International Edition]
Shirley Eaton (1937- )
Photograph/Loomis Dean (1917-2005)

January 7, 1966
Sean Connery (1930-2020)
Photograph/Loomis Dean

LIFE November 6, 1964 spread

LIFE January 7, 1966 spread

May 31, 1965 LIFE International

May 31, 1965 LIFE International
Claudine Auger (1941-2019)
Photograph/Peter Basch (1921-2004)

The gold-painted image of Shirley Eaton that made the cover of LIFE on November 6, 1964 sparked the beginning of ‘Bondmania’ across the USA. A four-page preview of Goldfinger appeared inside, including another colour photo of Shirley Eaton by Loomis Dean. Sean Connery then made the cover of the January 1966 issue of LIFE to tie in with the release of Thunderball (1965). A three-page spread of black & white photographs appeared inside.

Claudine Auger (1941-2019) was featured on the cover of LIFE International on May 31, 1965, with a three-page feature on Thunderball (1965) then filming in The Bahamas. The cover was by German-born photographer Peter Basch, who captured Claudine Auger by a pool in Paris following the press conference announcing her casting as Domino in February 1965. Unusually this issue was not published in the USA, and the feature did not appear in any other 1965 editions of the American version of LIFE. The International edition was available in many other countries including the British Isles, Europe and Japan, and also available to the US Armed Forces stationed overseas.

James Bond author Ian Fleming was then also the subject of a special fold-out cover of LIFE on October 7, 1966, when the first of a two-part serialization of John Pearson's biography The Life of Ian Fleming was published in the magazine. The image of Ian Fleming behind the wheel of a supercharged 4½ litre Bentley was taken in 1962 by long-time LIFE photographer Loomis Dean (1917-2005).

LIFE August 10, 1962 | August 28, 1964

Other photographs taken of Ian Fleming by Loomis Dean had appeared in the August 10, 1962 edition of LIFE [pictured above left & centre] which featured a five-page close-up of the James Bond author, although did not make the front cover. Ironically, it was recently elected President John F. Kennedy's endorsement of the James Bond novels in a 1961 LIFE article that led to Ian Fleming's work becoming more popular in the USA. In the March 17, 1961 issue Kennedy had listed his ten favourite books, placing FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE at number nine, resulting in a much-needed boost to the sales of the James Bond novels in the USA, which up until this point had only sold in small numbers. The success of the Sean Connery films consolidated the interest in all things 007, and the novels eventually became best-sellers across the nation. Two weeks after Ian Fleming's death, LIFE published a special report in the August 28, 1964 edition [pictured above right], titled ‘Our Spy-Boss Who Loved Bond’, written by his friend and former CIA director Allen Dulles (1893-1969). The appreciation was accompanied by a photograph of Dulles and Fleming at their last meeting in January 1964. The article was later reprinted in the 1965 paperback anthology For Bond Lovers Only edited by Sheldon Lane.

LIFE October 7, 1966

October 7, 1966
Ian Fleming (1908-1964)
Photograph/Loomis Dean [taken in 1962]

George Lazenby's casting as the new James Bond featured in the October 11, 1968 edition of LIFE accompanied by a special four-page feature with photographs by Loomis Dean of the different actors testing for the role. Once, again this feature did not make the cover of LIFE, and many of the photographs from the session were not published until 2009, when LIFE made them available on their website to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).

October 1, 1968 LIFE magazine spread

October 11, 1968 LIFE double-page spread
Photograph/Loomis Dean
Main picture: (top row) Hans De Vries and Anthony Rogers (bottom row) John Richardson, Robert Campbell and George Lazenby.

In 1960 Ian Fleming wrote an article entitled ‘The Russians Make Mistakes, Too’, which was printed in the November issue of the popular American men's magazine Esquire (first published in 1933), as part of a larger feature with the overall title ‘A Handbook For Professional Spies’. The piece was written shortly after the United States lost their U-2 spy plane (flown by Gary Powers) on May 1, 1960 after it was shot down by the Soviet Air Defence Forces while conducting photographic aerial reconnaissance deep inside Soviet territory.

Ian Fleming was later featured as part of a picture essay entitled ‘Tough Cookies’ in the December 1961 issue of Esquire, as his novels were becoming more popular in the USA. The iconic image of Ian Fleming with a revolver, photographed by Dan Wynn (1920-1995), would later appear on the rear of the dust jacket for the US New American Library first edition of ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE in 1963. Esquire captioned the photograph: ‘Ian Fleming, ex-foreign manager of London's Sunday Times, delights in chronicling the capers of hard-fighting, woman-dazzling, danger-loving secret agent James Bond. His readers, who find Mike Hammer a boor, include professors, parsons, and the President of the United States’. Esquire later played an important part in the ongoing promotion of the film series in the USA. The June 1965 issue devoted its front cover and 12 pages of content to Thunderball - almost six months ahead of its release in New York. Distributor United Artists were extremely pleased with the coverage given to the forthcoming James Bond film, which they acknowledged as one of the best and biggest breaks ever given a motion picture by the popular publication.

Esquire June 1965

To cross-promote Thunderball and the Esquire coverage, the National Screen Service issued a poster (40" X 60") that was displayed in cinemas long before the film was released. The black & white poster showed all 12 pages of the Esquire feature, although much of the content in the magazine was in colour. The article titled ‘Killing Off Bond’ showcased the girls and gadgets of Thunderball, alongside production drawings by assistant art director Michael White (1933- ), storyboards drawn by chief draughtsman Peter Lamont, and sketches by Production designer Ken Adam.

Esquire June 1965 Sean Connery, Luciana Paluzzi and Claudine Auger | Esquire poster

The Esquire cover image of Sean Connery with three Bond Girls (Claudine Auger, Molly Peters and Mitsouko) designed by George Lois (1931-2022), and photographed by Timothy Galfas (1924-2013). The shots inside of Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi and Mitsouko were taken by renowned Belgian-born photographer Robert Freson (1926- ). Seen on the cover (top left) is the British actress and glamour model who played Nurse Patricia Fearing in Thunderball, before her hair was bleached blonde for the role. Several of the photographs from the Esquire session were used in other publicity for the film. The image of Sean Connery released from the Freson shoot, wearing a white tuxedo with a red carnation is often misidentified by picture libraries and the media as being from Goldfinger, as Bond wears a white dinner jacket and accompanying red carnation in the pre-credit sequence of the 1964 film. The photograph (above left) taken by Freson for the Esquire shoot clearly shows Sean Connery sporting his new-style Thunderball hairpiece. One of Freson's stills of Sean Connery in the white tuxedo appeared in the 1965 James Bond annual and was correctly captioned as being from Thunderball. Also featured in Esquire's Thunderball feature was a full-colour double-page illustration of the underwater battle credited to Wright and Spencer. Also in this issue was an article by screenwriter Richard Maibaum titled ‘MY WORD IS HIS BOND: A View from the Back Room’. Maibaum would also contribute to the pictorial essay ‘James Bond's Girls’ to the November 1965 issue of PLAYBOY.

Esquire March 1967

Twenty months after Esquire had previewed Thunderball, a similar extensive article was published in the March 1967 issue. This time titled ‘Killing Off Bond Again’, Esquire announced that the new film You Only Live Twice starts out with James Bond getting killed. The provocative front cover showed three unidentified women grieving over the coffin of James Bond was once again designed by George Lois, and photographed by Timothy Galfas. The 12-page feature once again showcased the girls, gadgets and set design of the latest James Bond film, with photographs by Brian Duffy (1933-2010), pencil sketches by Michael White, and drawings by Robert Laing (1937- ) and Ken Adam of the sets and ‘Little Nellie’ autogyro. The pre-credit opening sequence is presented as storyboards, and eye-catching colour paintings by Roy Spencer are also showcased in the magazine showing the Volcano interior and helicopter battle. Once again, a special poster (40" X 60") was produced by the National Screen Service to be displayed in cinemas ahead of the June 1967 release of You Only Live Twice.

Esquire March 1967 illustration by Roy Spencer

With the return of James Bond to the big screen in 1995 after a six year hiatus, Esquire featured Pierce Brosnan on the cover of the November issue, and an extensive interview with the new 007 inside. Profiles of the two new Bond Girls Famke Janssen and Izabella Scorupco; and a new post-modern James Bond short story ‘License to Hug’ by English author & journalist Will Self, with illustrations by Mark Zingarelli. Although mentioning Ian Fleming's creation by name, this was an unlicensed story and never acknowledged as an ‘official’ piece of James Bond fiction. An amusing secret agent quiz rounded off Esquire's substantial coverage of GoldenEye (1995). Pierce Brosnan made the cover of Esquire for a second time in November 2002 to coincide with the release of Die Another Day. Although there was no content directly related to his fourth (and final) James Bond film, Esquire printed ‘007 Interesting Things About Pierce Brosnan’ and a generic James Bond quiz. By now the magazine was more interested in the actor's lifestyle and what he wore, rather than directly promoting his latest film.

Esquire covers November 1995, November 2002 & September 2006

Daniel Craig was featured on the cover of the September 2006 issue of Esquire, and like his predecessor was introduced to American readers in an article the magazine promised would give him a warmer welcome than the one he received back home! As Esquire was predominantly a men's lifestyle magazine, Craig also appears in several moody photographs dressed in expensive designer outfits from the likes of Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Dolce & Gabbana.

Esquire November 1995 Of Human Bondage | License to Hug by Will Self

Popular ScienceJanuary 1966

Thunderball made the cover of the January 1966 issue of Popular Science, this time with the focus strictly on the gadgets featured in the film. A five-page article accompanied by black & white stills of the various gadgets and technology featured in Thunderball (1965) appeared inside. Founded in 1872, Popular Science was a specialist monthly magazine that originally showcased science and technology subjects for more educated readers, but evolved into a publication that reported on science for a general audience.

The June 1967 issue had a five-page feature on James Bond's amazing WA-116 autogyro ‘Little Nellie’ and an interview with its inventor Wing Commander Ken Wallis (1916-2013), accompanied by photos and an exclusive cut-away diagram. Both issues of Popular Science had superb illustrated colour covers by renowned American artist James Bama (1926-2022), who would later provide artwork for the 1967 paperback Alias James Bond - The Life of Ian Fleming by John Pearson, and six Ian Fleming James Bond novels from 1969-1972, all published by Bantam Books.

The June 1967 issue of Popular Science was also cross-promoted with a special poster (30" X 40") supplied to cinemas by the National Screen Service as they had for the two Esquire issues in 1965 and 1967.

Curiously, the Popular Science poster was not advertised in the United Artists Pressbook for You Only Live Twice (1967), although the Esquire poster was.

Popular Sciemce spreads

Popular Science June 1967

Popular Science June 1967 poster



LOOK December 31, 1963

Daniela Bianchi was the focus of a four-page feature titled ‘Secret Agent James Bond's Second Girl Friend’ in the December 31, 1963 issue of LOOK - a bi-weekly general interest magazine published from 1937-1971. The feature included an interview with the Italian actress accompanied by film stills, and a photo of her with Ian Fleming taken when the author visited the location filming of From Russia With Love (1963) in Istanbul. The final issue of 1963 was published in memory of John F. Kennedy and featured several article relating to the late President, including a Christmas message written by Jackie Kennedy prior to the assassination of her husband. The National Screen Service produced a 10" X 8" black & white publicity still [pictured left] that was available during the US release of From Russia With Love in April 1964. Sean Connery and Claudine Auger were then featured on the cover of the July 13, 1965 issue of LOOK. The magazine gave readers an eight-page preview of Thunderball (1965) a full five months before it was released in US cinemas. The feature was accompanied by exclusive colour photographs by Phillip Harrington (1920-2009). Before beginning his career in feature films, Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was a staff photographer for LOOK, and undertook over 300 assignments for the magazine between 1946 and 1951.

LOOK July 13, 1965

The Saturday Ebening POST July 17, 1965

Sean Connery would again make the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on July 17, 1965 which included a six-page background article on the making of Thunderball accompanied by black & white photographs. The Saturday Evening Post was first published in 1897 as a weekly magazine up until 1963, then every two weeks until 1969. At its height The Saturday Evening Post was one of the most widely circulated and influential magazines within the American middle class, with fiction, non-fiction, cartoons and features that reached two million homes every week.

July 13, 1965 LOOK montage

The Saturday Evening Post spread July 17, 1965


American Cinematographer

From 1970, in-depth articles on the making of the James Bond films have appeared in the specialist magazine American Cinematographer. In addition to their extensive behind-the-scenes coverage, eleven of the EON Productions films were featured on the cover of the American Society of Cinematographers’ monthly magazine. Never Say Never Again (1983) also made the cover of the October 1983 issue, which had a 12-page article on the underwater filming for Sean Connery's comeback film as James Bond 007.



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