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  18 March 2019  

Eunice Gayson BAFTA memorial

Eunice Gayson BAFTA memorial

A memorial for Eunice Gayson, who played Sylvia Trench in Dr. No and From Russia With Love, was held yesterday at BAFTA in London on what would have been her 91st birthday. Attending were James Bond Producer Michael. G. Wilson, and 007 actresses Caroline Munro [‘Naomi’ in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)], Jenny Hanley [‘Irish Girl’ in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)], Carole Ashby [‘Octopussy girl’ in Octopussy (1983) and ‘Whistling girl’ in A View To A Kill (1985)], Caron Gardner [‘Pussy Galore's Flying Circus pilot’ in Goldfinger (1964)], Caroline Bliss [‘Miss Moneypenny’ in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence To Kill (1989)] and Madeline Smith [‘Miss Caruso’ in Live And Let Die (1973)].

Eunice Gayson BAFTA memorial

“Willowy, exquisitely gowned with a classic, deceptively cold beauty.” This is how the Dr. No (1962) screenplay describes Sylvia Trench. Elegant and intelligent, Sylvia became the first woman to catch the cinematic James Bond’s attention. She also sets up one of the most iconic lines in cinema history. When casting the first James Bond film director Terence Young remembered Eunice Gayson from his 1956 film Zarak and offered her the role of Sylvia Trench - a new character not created by Ian Fleming. Sylvia Trench was due to be a recurring character, but the idea was dropped when Guy Hamilton took over the direction of Goldfinger in 1964.

Sylvia first meets Bond at the exclusive Le Cercle casino at Les Ambassadeurs club in London. Battling over a game of Chemin de fer, she introduces herself as “Trench, Sylvia Trench” and he responds in his now trademark manner “Bond, James Bond”, playfully mimicking Trench’s own delivery.

After indulging in verbal foreplay with Sylvia Trench at the gaming tables of his London club, James Bond reports to the offices of the British Secret Service. He learns from ‘M’ that Strangways their agent in Jamaica, has disappeared along with his secretary. Bond's mission is to investigate their disappearance and discover if it is linked with the ‘toppling’ of American missiles. Returning to his apartment, Bond is surprised to find Sylvia has gained entry. Dressed only in Bond's pyjama top and high-heeled shoes and practising her putting stroke. Sylvia is put off aim when Bond bursts in gun in hand. Her face is a picture of disappointment when Bond tells her he must leave immediately. After a kiss he relents - “almost immediately”, he tells her.

Sylvia reappears in the next 007 adventure From Russia With Love (1963), sharing a lazy riverside picnic with James Bond. A call from Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), instructing Bond to meet with ‘M’ (Bernard Lee), interrupts their idyll sending him on a mission to retrieve a decoding machine from the Russians. It seems, when it comes to James Bond, Sylvia can never catch a break.

Eunice Gayson & Sean Connery in Dr. No (1962) | Director Terence Young with Eunice Gayson and Sean Connery filming From Russia With Love (1963)

ABOVE (left) Eunice Gayson and Sean Connery in Dr. No (1962) (right) Three-time James Bond director Terence Young with Eunice Gayson and Sean Connery behind-the scenes on From Russia With Love (1963)

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Eunice Gayson obituary