CHARLOTTE, N.C. Every so often, one cable network or another televises a James Bond marathon featuring every picture ever made in this the popular long-lived franchise. Among Bond fans, one of the ongoing debates (especially when a new Bond film debuts) is who played the role of 007 the best.
But that un-resolvable conflict can devolve to other arguments. Such wrangling may include fierce debates over the best villains and the best Bond picture. But crucially, the most heated debates revolve around the people’s choice for the hottest Bond women – aka, “Bond babes” or “Bond girls” – in the franchise.
Of course, these debates will likely rage on until the end of time. That’s because there are really with no definitive answers to any of these questions. However, for this Myth Trivia column, it seemed a worthwhile challenge to begin our research by discovering exactly which attractive young actress is currently regarded by Bond fans as the most popular Bond babe / girl / woman in the franchise thus far.
How Myth Trivia assembled its Top Ten List
First of all, Myth Trivia located four respected ratings lists naming the top female co-stars in the Bond series. Naturally, there was a wide range of input. To resolve the issue, we first compiled a list of the top ten from each poll. Next, we divided the total appearance and positional scores by four to arrive at what should be a good indication of how the ladies truly ranked.
Some of the final results were surprising. They also proved revealing.
Of the best and final top ten, there was a surprising three way tie for eighth place. The final stats also revealed a tie for position number six in the final tally.
Six women only made the top ten either once or twice. Just two made the cut in three of the surveys, while three managed to grab votes in all four. Of course, that trio comprised the top three in our list, purely by making it onto each each of the surveys we sampled.
Oddly enough, though some women only appeared on one list, in some cases they ranked high enough on that list to beat out others who scored in multiple ratings.
Believe it or not, of the most famous actresses appearing in the James Bond franchise films thus far, the highly-regarded Halle Berry and Kim Basinger, did not make it into Top Ten. Neither did Britt Ekland, who was also well-known when she played Mary Goodnight in The Man with the Golden Gun.
Near misses in our Top Ten Bond Girl List
A total of six female stars just barely missed the top ten.
- Luciana Paluzzi (Fiona Volpe — Thunderball — 1965)
- Claudine Auger (“Domino” Duvall — Thunderball — 1965)
- Britt Ekland (Mary Goodnight — The Man with the Golden Gun — 1974)
- Maryam D’Abo (Kara Milovy — The Living Daylights — 1987)
- Famke Janssen (Xenia Onatopp — Goldeneye — 1995)
- Michelle Yeoh (Wai Lin — Tomorrow Never Dies — 1997)
What about Moneypenny and “M”?
Before continuing with our ratings, we should note that one of the lists included virtually all of the Bond women. That meant that Moneypenny and “M” received votes in that one poll.
Technically, although Moneypenny and “M” do not count as Bond babes, we should given them a nod here since they appeared at least informationally in that survey. So Naomi Harris who played Moneypenny in Skyfall and Judi Dench, who played “M” in numerous Bond films, get a nod from us here. Dench, a distinguished actress in her own right, surprisingly, actually appeared in as many Bond films (7) as Sean Connery and Roger Moore did in their portrayals of the dashing Agent 007.
More on our Myth Trivia Top Ten Bond Women
Our elite Top Ten list includes a truly international potpourri of stunning ladies. This Bond babe cavalcade Three UK stars lead off the list, followed by two American and French actresses, and one each from Poland, Switzerland and Italy.
Not so fun fact: Considering that the Bond franchise began in 1962 with Dr. No, our illustrious ladies today average 70.5 years of age.
On the other hand, though some of these ladies died or were killed off in the Bond adventures, all ten of our Top Ten real-life women are still living. Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore) takes the dubious honor as the oldest at 92. 38-year old Eva Green (Vesper Lynd) currently reigns as the youngest.
Now, without further ado, we present our final list, which, as duly noted, is completely unscientific and certainly subjective. We list tie positions in order of the year their respective films were released.
And now, Ta-Da! Our Top Ten favorite James Bond women: Numbers 10 through 8
Now, without further ado, we present our final list. As duly noted, our list is completely unscientific and certainly subjective. We list tie positions in order of the year their respective films were released. That’s why, for example, picks 10 through 8 are all listed as number 8.
8) Honor Blackman. Pussy Galore, Goldfinger. (1964)
Honor Blackman is one of the most recognized Bond girls because of her outlandishly suggestive name. She was also the first of many “bad” girls to change sides later.
8) Carole Bouquet. Melina Havelock, For Your Eyes Only. (1981)
French actress Carole Bouquet’s voice was dubbed in the English release of the film. But she did use her own voice in the French edition. By the way, Bond did not have his way with his co-star in this film until the closing credits.
8) Izabella Scorupco. Natalya Simonova, GoldenEye. (1995)
Actresses first considered as Bond girls in this film included Elizabeth Hurley and Elle Macpherson. Paulina Porizkova and Eva Herzigova were offered the role of Natalya, but turned it down. So the question then becomes, would our list have changed if the actress had been different?
Our Top Ten favorite James Bond women: Two sixes and a five
6) Shirley Eaton. Jill Masterson, Goldfinger. (1964)
At the premiere of the film in Paris, 60 women were gilded in gold like Shirley Eaton. All of the opening credits were projected on the body of Margaret Nolan who played Dink in the picture. Noteworthy: The opening credits ultimately gave Nolan more screen time than Eaton actually got in the finished version of this film.
6) Jill St John. Tiffany Case, Diamonds are Forever. (1971)
Case is played by 1960s sex symbol and “Gilligan’s Island” siren Jill St. John. Jill-Tiffany proved one of the sexiest Bond girls. Significantly, she was also one of the first to have a strong agenda of her own. It’s not terribly complicated, however. Work for a diamond-smuggling ring and you can get rich.
5) Daniela Bianchi. Tatiana Romanova, From Russia With Love. (1963)
The scene in which Bond and Tatiana first meet in the hotel suite has since been used as an audition scene for potential Bond actors and Bond girls, including Octopussy (1983).
Our Top Ten favorite James Bond women: Three of the Final Four
4) Eva Green. Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale. (2006)
Angelina Jolie, Naomi Watts, Scarlett Johansson, and Charlize Theron were strongly considered for the part of Vesper Lynd. But Eva was the one who got the role.
3) Barbara Bach. Maj Anya Amasova, The Spy Who Loved Me. (1977)
Barbara Bach’s Amasova is Bond’s mirror image. This was a turning point for the series, the first time the Bond girl overshadowed the villain. Of course, Bond repeatedly must save Amasova. But she still was the most self-sufficient Bond woman to that point in the franchise.
2) Ursula Andress. Honey Rider, Dr No. (1962)
Ursula Andress, the stunning Swiss miss in our list, set the standard for all future James Bond love interests in the evolving franchise. Even today, that classic photo of Andress walking up the beach, overflowingly resplendant in her white bikini — made into a notably popular dorm poster during the Boomer generation’s college days — is iconic Bond.
Our Top Ten favorite James Bond women: And the Winner is…
1) Diana Rigg. Contessa Teresa Di Vicenzo, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. (1969)
Our top winner may surprise you. Of the four lists used for this exercise, one particularly winning – and excellent – British actress grabbed three first place votes.
Of all the James Bond films On Her Majesty’s Secret Service wins the dubious distinction as the only film in which Bond was played by the frequently (but perhaps undeservedly) panned and quickly forgotten George Lazenby. And that was unfortunate for the film’s leading lady, Diana Rigg. Critics often overlook her excellent portrayal Contessa Teresa Di Vicenzo in that film due to its relative unpopularity.
Today, Diana Rigg is more formally known as Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, DBE. (i.e., Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire); and more popular known to 1960s TV fans as the supercharged and super-sexy Mrs. Emma Peel in the British TV spy series, The Avengers. She has been a distinguished stage performer with the Royal Shakespeare Company for decades.
Dame Diana also has the additional distinction of being the only Bond girl to get 007 to the altar. Alas, she was killed for her efforts at the end of the film.
More recently, Rigg has become known to a new generation TV and film buffs for her portrayal of the crusty Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.
And that’s a wrap for this entrancing edition of Myth Trivia. Of course, plenty of room remains for further debate on this hot topic. But then again, it wouldn’t Bond-worthy if there wasn’t.
Ursula Andress, who portrayed Honey Rider in “Dr. No.” (1962), takes the honors as the very first Bond babe / girl / woman in the very first James Bond film. Image, edited to fit our site format, courtesy of the official James Bond website.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.